Louise Cainkar (LC): This article was developed from a keynote speech I
delivered at the Conference on Arab World Migrations and Diasporas, organized
by Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. When
contemplating the keynote, I considered deeply what my particular contribution
would be to a room full of multi-disciplinary scholars of Arab migrations and
diasporas. I decided to focus on constructing a global context within which all
of us—historians, sociologists, anthropologists, scholars of comparative literature,
cultural studies, diasporas, and others—could situate our work. Such a context
would allow us to converse across disciplines and theoretical frameworks, as
well as begin speaking in comparative ways, which I consider useful and important.
We know that there are variations and commonalities in the experiences of Arab world
migrants and among Arab world diasporas; we should begin to talk about what
matters and why it matters.