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  • 2016qabahaphd

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Expatriation versus exile: departures and returns in modern American expatriate narratives and post-1948 exilic Palestinian writing

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Ahmad Qabaha
Publication date2016
Number of pages250
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis offers a sustained and nuanced examination of representations of expatriation and exile in modern American expatriate narratives and post-1948 exilic Palestinian writing. In so doing, this thesis addresses and develops an under elaborated conversation in comparative, postcolonial and diaspora studies. It accounts for the distinction between the departures and returns of the involuntary exile and the expatriate or self-imposed exile.
In Chapter One, I analyse memoirs by Fawaz Turki (1941–) and Malcolm Cowley (1898– 1989) in order to illustrate that the departure of exiled Palestinian writers from their homeland is imposed by a colonial situation, while the departure of Modernist American expatriate authors to Europe is elective. In Chapter Two, I juxtapose works by Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (1919–1994) to show that American expatriate characters are engaged in centrifugal movement that increases their sense of freedom, while exiled Palestinian characters are involved in a centripetal mobility that expresses their desire to return home. In Chapter Three, I examine memoirs by Edward Said (1935–2003) and Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) to show that Said uses his ‘voyage in’ to the Palestinian context to enter into the Palestinian national narrative, while Stein performs ‘a displaced and dialectical encounter’ with the US to cultivate a distinctive personal identity and narrative. In Chapter Four, I explore a range of exilic Palestinian and modern American expatriate works to suggest that the differences between the representations of ‘roots’ and ‘routes’ by the authors at stake echo the various forms of departures and returns they represent.
The overarching aim of this thesis is to foreground the different modes of placelessness represented by exiled and expatriate characters and their authors. It contends that the possibility of American expatriate protagonists of reconnecting with their roots enables them to choose the routes they desire to follow afterwards, which reflects an elective exile. By contrast, the representation by their Palestinian counterparts of their inability to access their roots and choose their routes reflects an involuntary exile. This thesis therefore urges comparative, postcolonial and diaspora studies to stress the differences between expatriation and exile, and it opens up new possibilities for further comparative examinations of literatures of exile and expatriation. This thesis also paves the way for further research on potential connections between Palestinian and American writing.