Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kumkum Sangari

Committee Members

Gwynne A. Kennedy, Kristie G. Hamilton, Brenda E. Cardenas, Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks


Arab American, Chicana, Cuban American, Indian American, New Americanists, Pakistani American


This study argues that the notion of Americanness is constructed nationally within the U.S. geographic space, as well as transnationally outside that space. The transnational perception of the U.S. nation-space and Americanness makes possible ambivalent positionings which I call non-national and through its lens I examine migrant narratives by Arab-American, Chicana, Indian-American, Pakistani-American, and Cuban-American women writers. I explain in my study that the non-national subject does not merely occupy a liminal space between home-country and host-country but rather reconfigures the implications of the "foreign" and the "domestic"; "home" and "abroad" within that interstitial space. I also argue that the non-national is a specific moment that complicates and contests singular national identifications. In that sense, my study problematizes essential concepts that are eminent to the formation of the nation: national consciousness, national time, national space, and national belonging in specific texts by Diana Abu Jaber (The Language of Baklava, 2005), Laila Halaby (West of The Jordan, 2003); Pauline Kaldas (The Time Between Places: Stories that Weave in and out of Egypt and America, 2010), Alia Yunis (The Night Counter, 2009); Bapsi Sidhwa (An American Brat, 2006); Cherríe Moraga (The Last Generation, 1993); Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake, 2003) and Cristina Garcia (The Agüero Sisters, 1997).

In each chapter I compare an Arab-American text to a Pakistani-American, Chicana, Indian-American, or Cuban-American text to examine the implications of the non-national in these texts. I work my analysis of the non-national through two theoretical frameworks that are interrelated: the transnational approach in American Studies, and Arab-American Studies. Thus the significance of my project is twofold. First, I aim to expand, complicate, and open new questions about the meanings and use of the term "non-national" within new Americanists' studies. Second, I am calling attention to Arab-American literature by putting it in conversation with other literatures by minorities in the U.S.