Representation without Recognition: A Survey of Arab American Images in Egyptian Cinema

This article surveys a representational pattern in Egyptian cinema since the 1990s that both counters Hollywood’s Orientalist binaries and produces alternative imaginations of Arab Americans. Egyptian filmmakers, I argue, have confined the filmic imaginations of Arab Americans within the parameters of Egyptian identity. While embedded in nationalist articulations of class, gender, and generation, and presented within multilayered critiques of materialism, power, and nostalgia, the Egyptian American characters in the surveyed films are either denigrated as American or celebrated as Egyptian. Thus, the Egyptian cinematic form of subversion, I contend, fails to navigate away from reversing Hollywood’s polarizing portrayals.

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Citation: Mahdi, Waleed F. “Representation without Recognition: A Survey of Arab American Images in Egyptian Cinema.” Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, vol. 59, no. 1, 2019, pp. 89-111.