This article, throughout Laila Halaby’s West of the Jordan (2013), examines the socio-cultural characteristics and conditions that determine the identity construction of Arab women in both the diaspora and the homeland. In other words, it demonstrates how Arab women’s identity oscillates between their country of residence – diaspora – and their countries of origin, showcasing the complexity of their belonging. I argue that socio-cultural traditional mechanisms such as conservatism and judgementalism contribute to the positioning of women in the Arab context in a complex cultural insularity and spaces of anxiety, providing multiple readings of Arab female bodies. This article concludes that Halaby’s portrayal of Arab women’s experiences in her fiction tends to trigger feminist and empathetic engagements. In addition to critical and analytical approaches to the novel, the arguments in this article are based on perspectives of prominent critics and scholars such as Fadda-Carol Conrey, Nadine Naber, and Homi Bhabha, to name just a few, as well as on interviews I conducted with prominent Arab American novelists, namely Rajia Hassib and Laila Halaby.
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