The relationship between the Middle East and the West is one of the greatest issues of today and will remain so for the forseeable future. Interest in Ameen Rihani is heightened because his ideas about how the Arab world and the West relate to each other are of particular contemporary relevance. Despite the contemporary resonance and importance of Rihani and his work, no other full examination of his entire literary and political writings yet exists. Ameen Rihani was a pioneering Arab-American writer and activist, a leading figure in the development of the 'mahjar' literary movement and the most prominent Arab humanist intellectual of the twentieth century. Undertaking a comprehensive and critical reading of Rihani's Arabic and English writings, Nijmeh Hajjar examines the dialectical link between Rihani's life experiences and his ideas and activism. She explores Rihani's secular humanist vision of Arab progress, democracy and social justice, and concern for respectful relations between the Arab world and the West.
This fascinating illustration of an Arab-American encounter contributes to post-colonial discourse and provides a balancing counterpoint to the predominant ideological 'clash of civilisations' paradigms.
Nijmeh Hajjar is a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include gender issues in modern Arabic culture, literature and cinema. Her other publications include 'Living Arabic in Context', Beirut, 2005.