Consuming Orientalism: Public Foodways of Arab American Christians


  • Matthew Jaber Stiffler Author



Orientalism, Arab American, foodways, self-Orientalism, Arab American Christians, Foodways, Arab Americans, Antiochian Orthodox, self-Orientalist imagery, Cultural identity, restaurants, Festival, Edward Said, liberal multiculturalism, Arab American studies, cultural analysis, stereotypes


For more than a century, Arab Americans have resorted to self-Orientalism to secure their place in the US multicultural arena as “authentic” others. My essay focuses on the strategic use of self-Orientalist imagery and rhetoric within Arab American Christian communities, specifically at restaurants and church-sponsored festivals. Following the long line of scholars that have mobilized and modified Edward Said’s framework, my use of the term self-Orientalism refers to the ways that Arab Americans have strategically deployed Orientalist imagery and rhetoric as a representational practice within liberal multiculturalism. My essay also intervenes in the field of Arab American studies in two key ways: by arguing for the importance of foodways as site of cultural analysis, and by focusing on how Arab Americans have themselves interacted with and deployed stereotypical representations.



2021-02-01 — Updated on 2021-02-01