In her latest book, Arab Routes: Pathways to Syrian California
(Stanford University Press, 2019), Sarah M. A. Gualtieri
uncovers the dynamic and complex stories of Arabic-speaking migrant communities who came to call Southern California home. Rather than a simple story of departure and arrival, Gualtieri traces the surprising twists and turns of Syrian migrants who travelled throughout the United States, Latin America, and Canada, transcending, blurring and often unsettling national boundaries. During these international and intranational migrations, Syrian migrants forged interethnic alliances to counter pervasive prejudices and racialized immigration systems. What emerged, argues Gualtieri, were hybrid identities or a “mestizaje
,” which complicates and challenges narratives of assimilation and identity formation in narratives about immigration in the United States. A methodologically innovative account, Arab Routes
critically examines government records, oral histories, and rich forms of cultural production by generations of Arab Americans, highlighting the important role that Arabic-speaking communities played in creating and shaping a global Los Angeles. With fascinating anecdotes and keen analytical insights, Gualtieri counters historical silences and places the Syrian Pacific at the center of histories of migration in the Americas and the Middle East.
Sarah M. A. Gualtieri
is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, as well as History, and Middle East Studies at the University of Southern California.
Joshua Donovan is a PhD candidate at Columbia University’s Department of History. His dissertation examines competing conceptions of identity and subjectivity within the Greek Orthodox Christian community in Syria, Lebanon, and the diaspora.