Travel, Relationality, and Privilege in Palestinian American Poetry
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.
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