Writing the Arab-Jew: Reflections on Displacement

This conversation between Georges Khalil and Ella Shohat will address dislocations from the Middle East and their impact on identity, including within their European and American contexts. Since the 1980s, Shohat’s interdisciplinary work has been challenging the Arab-versus-Jew binarism, preeminent not merely in the political arena but also in the intellectual and cultural domains. Her transregional perspective resignified “exile,” “diaspora,” and “return,” revealing intricate landscapes of belonging. She theorized “the Arab-Jew” as a pivotal concept to convey not only tropes of loss but also of cross-border potentialities. Throughout her work, she has unpacked such fraught issues as: the links between “the two 1492s” (the Expulsion and “the Discovery”); the narrativization of Jewish pasts in Muslim spaces; colonial ruptures and the Orientalist splitting of “the Arab” and “the Jew;” as well as partition, displacement, and the anomalies of the national in which the “Ingathering-of-the-Exiles” produced new exilic situations.

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