This dissertation traces the anxieties surrounding Syrian migrant peddlers and their economic networks at the turn of the twentieth century and argues that this profession, which employed large number of Syrian men and women, constituted Arab immigrants as at once racial and sexual `others.' While their presence was a source of anxiety, their commodities, labor, and racial and cultural difference were necessary for the formation of white, heteronormative domestic space. This research also intervenes in established narratives that chart a seamless assimilation of early Syrian immigrants into a white American racial category. I demonstrate that the transience of male Syrian peddlers and the gender and sexual transgressions of female Syrian peddlers posed a threat to claims of Syrian whiteness. I use theoretical frameworks from women of color feminist theory, post-colonial history, queer theory, and cultural studies to read for both the presences and absences of the Syrian peddler in archives of popular culture, social welfare, and the early Arab American community.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2013. Major: Feminist Studies. Advisor: Jigna Desai. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 224 pages.
Peddling an Arab American History: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Early Syrian American Communities.
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