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“Are You or Are You Not an American?”

“Are You or Are You Not an American?”

The Politics of Belonging in Everyday Life

(p.170) 5 “Are You or Are You Not an American?”
Unsettled Belonging
Thea Renda Abu El-Haj
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5 focuses on the politics of belonging as they unfolded on the ground in everyday life at Regional High--political projects that through which the boundaries of national communities are established and contested. Looking at particular sites of conflict that emerged between Palestinian American youth on the one hand, and their teachers and peers on the other, the chapter examines the Palestinian American youths’ everyday bids for citizenship: the ways in which these young people made claims for belonging, and work for equality, justice, and inclusion. Unfortunately, these bids for citizenship gained little traction and were often met with practices of silencing and discipline at Regional High. This chapter illustrates how Palestinian American youths’ bids for citizenship—demands for full participation, membership, and equality in school and society—were constrained by the practices of everyday nationalism that constructed them as outsiders to this national imaginary.

Keywords:   Palestinian American youth, Muslims, politics of belonging, pledge of allegiance, citizenship, transnationalism, everyday nationalism, racialization, national imaginary, war on terror

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