Latino/a Literature in the Arab World

Authored by: Dalia M. A. Gomaa

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613


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In 2001, my doctoral prospectus – submitted to the Department of English in the University of Cairo – was the only one on Chicana literature and the only one that attempted deploying postcolonial theories combined with feminist theories as the theoretical framework for my doctoral project. By the time my prospectus was approved by the Graduate School in the University of Cairo, two events unfolded that were closely related to my topic. The first was the return of another Egyptian scholar – Dr. Maher Mahdi, University of Helwan – who received his doctoral degree in Chicano poetry from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The second event was the American Embassy in Egypt hosting the renowned Chicana writer Ana Castillo as part of the cultural event of celebrating Hispanic history in the US that was taking place during the period of 15 September–15 October. It is the tradition of the American Embassy in Egypt to hold lectures, movie screenings, and forums that discuss different aspects of US history, address contemporary issues that the US and Egypt are involved in, and highlight the cultural diversity of the US. Thus, the purpose of inviting Castillo to Egypt was to shed more light on Hispanic literature. Since the American Embassy works closely with many universities in Egypt, these cultural events are valuable opportunities for scholars engaged with research that focuses on the US and its cultures. I would therefore say that in the year 2001, the academic interest in Chicano/a literature was emerging in Egypt, specifically in Cairo. By the year 2005, there was another doctoral prospectus that was submitted to the department of English in the University of Cairo on Latina literature and issues of “home” and belonging. Despite the passage of more than ten years, I still cannot claim that Chicano/a literature – or Latino/a literature in general – is widely known in Egypt, yet the interest in it is increasing as a new literary terrain to be explored by students in different departments of English in Egypt. In this essay I will discuss how and why I – a scholar from Egypt – became interested in examining Chicano/a literature or Latino/a literature and shed light on some of the studies conducted by scholars from the Arab world on Chicano/a literature.

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