Unsettled Belonging tells the stories of young Palestinian Americans as they navigate and construct lives as American citizens. Following these youth throughout their school days, Thea Abu El-Haj examines citizenship as lived experience, dependent on various social, cultural, and political memberships. For them, she shows, life is characterized by a fundamental schism between their sense of transnational belonging and the exclusionary politics of routine American nationalism that ultimately cast them as impossible subjects.
Abu El-Haj explores the school as the primary site where young people from immigrant communities encounter the central discourses about what it means to be American. She illustrates the complex ways social identities are bound up with questions of belonging and citizenship, and she details the processes through which immigrant youth are racialized via everyday nationalistic practices. Finally, she raises a series of crucial questions about how we educate for active citizenship in contemporary times, when more and more people’s lives are shaped within transnational contexts. A compelling account of post-9/11 immigrant life, Unsettled Belonging is a steadfast look at the disjunctures of modern citizenship.