Travel, Relationality, and Privilege in Palestinian American Poetry


  • Hind El Hajj Prince Sultan University
  • Sirène Harb American University of Beirut



location, Palestinian American Poetry, identity, Travel, Palestinian American, Class, authors, Political Comparativity, Nathalie Handal, Agency, Naomi Shihab Nye, Solidarity, poetry, Social Relations, travel, privilege, relationality, colonialism, cross-ethnic relations


Negotiating location, identity, and class, the poetry of Palestinian American writers Nathalie Handal and Naomi Shihab Nye projects relational models of travel to fashion forms of resistance to colonialism, imperialism, and systemic violence. As such, the poets’ travel experiences mediate a revaluation of identity away from discourses of essentialism and in terms of struggle. On a first level, the depiction of travel reflects an agential literary practice in its elaboration of a poetics of relationality with colonized communities. This poetics challenges hegemonic modes of being and compartmentalization informing mainstream politics and narratives of modernity and progress. Travel also functions on a different level: it serves as a vehicle to complicate modes of relationality and problematize their interaction with class and privilege. This representational gesture tests the limits of coalitional practices and emphasizes the importance of examining issues of privilege as they relate to cross-ethnic relations.

Author Biographies

Hind El Hajj, Prince Sultan University

Lecturer, Prince Sultan University

Sirène Harb, American University of Beirut

Associate Professor at the American University of Beirut






Special Section: New Directions in Arab American Studies