Surrendering to the Discourse of Representation in Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land


This paper explores the effects of the discourse of representation on the cultural identity of the protagonist Jassim in Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land by making specific reference to Stuart Hall’s notion “The Discourse of Representation.” Michel Foucault’s theory of power/ knowledge is also significant to reveal the hegemonic power of discourse in a certain culture. Besides Hall’s and Foucault’s theories, this article draws upon the works of some other theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Louis Althusser, and Antonio Gramsci. The study explains how the primary role of power produces a certain discourse that normalizes the individual. The personal options and experiences of the main character will be scrutinized in order to explain how Jassim ultimately surrenders to the discourse of representation.


Ghada Sasa, Maya Boty


Arab American, cultural identity, discourse of representation, intellectual, multicultural society


Althusser, Louis. (2001). 'Ideology and ideological state apparatuses'. In Vincent B. Leitch (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1332-1361. New York: Norton. Banita, Georgiana. (2010). 'Race, risk, and fiction in the war on terror: Laila Halaby, Gayle Brandeis, and Michael Cunningham.’ Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, 21(4):242-68. DOI:10.1080/10436928.2010.523612 Baudrillard, Jean. (1998). The Consumer Society: Myths and Structure. Trans. Chris Turner. London: Sage Publication. Bhabha, Homi. (1996). 'Culture in between'. In Stuart Hall and Paul Du Gay (eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity. 53-60. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. Butler, Judith. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.New York: Routledge. Clark, William. (2003). Immigrants and the American Dream: Remaking the Middle Class. New York: Guilford. Cole, Juan. (2011). 'Islamophobia and American foreign policy rhetoric: The Bush years and after'. In John L. Esposito and İbrahim Kalin (eds.), Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century, 1-20. Oxford: Oxford UP. Foucault, Michel. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon. Foucault, Michel. (1997). ‘Truth and Juridical forms’. In Essential Works of Foucault: 1954-1984. Trans. Robert Hurley. Paul Rabinow and James D. Faubion (eds.), 1-89. New York: Norton. Gordon, Milton.(1975). 'Toward a general theory of racial and ethnic group relations'. In Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan (eds.), Ethnicity: Theory and Experience, 84-90. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Gramsci, Antonio. (2001).'The formation of the intellectuals'. In Vincent B. Leitch (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 1002-1008. New York: Norton. Gray, Richard. (2011). After the Fall: American Literature since 9/11. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Halaby, Laila. (2007). Once in a Promised Land. Boston: Beacon Press. Hall, Stuart. (1996). 'Introduction: who needs identity?' In Stuart Hall and Paul Du Gay (eds.), The Questions of Cultural Identity, 1-17. California: Sage Publications. Hall, Stuart. (1997). 'Old and new identities, old and new ethnicities'. In Anthony D. King (ed.), Culture, Globalization, and the World-system: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity, 41-68. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Hall, Stuart. (1997). Representation: Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices. London: Sage Publication. Kalin, Ibrahim. (2011). 'Islamophobia and the limits of multiculturalism'. In John L. Esposito and İbrahim Kalin. (eds.), Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century, 1-20. Oxford: OUP. Karoui, Inés. (2011). The shadows of 9/11 as explored in the Arab American narrative of Diana Abu-Jaber and Laila Halaby. MA Thesis, Salamanca University, Madrid, Spain. Kumar, Deepa. (2012). Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. Chicago: Haymarket. Lloyd, Amanda. (2014). Reverse orientalism: Laila Halaby Once in a Promised Land. MA Thesis, Cleveland University, Cleveland, The United States. Maalouf, Amin. (2003). In The Name of Identity: Violence and The Need to Belong. New York: Penguin. Mutimer, David. (2007). 'Sovereign contradictions: Maher Arar and the indefinite future'. In Elizabeth Dauphinee and Cristina Masters (eds.), The Logics of Biopower and the War on Terror: Living, Dying, Surviving, 159–79. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Naber, Nadine. (2008). ‘Race and Arab Americans before and after 9/11’. In Amaney A. Jamal and Nadine Christine (eds.). From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects, 1-45. NY: Syracuse UP. Olwan, Dana. (2009). The politics of legibility: Writing and reading contemporary Arab American women's literature. Doctoral Dissertation, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada. Phillips, Anne. (2007). Multiculturalism without Culture. Princeton: Princeton UP. Salaita, Steven. (2011). Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader's Guide. Syracuse: Syracuse UP. Schildkraut, Deborah Jill. (2005). Press One for English: Language Policy, Public Opinion, and American Identity. Princeton: Princeton UP. Wenkert, Simonetta. (2015).'Bringing up bilingual children: The best ways of passing on cultural identity'. The Independent. (Retrieved 10 June 2015).