Philip Hitti, Brazil, and the diasporic histories of area studies

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This article rethinks area studies through the diasporic histories of influential graduates of the Syrian Protestant College. My focus is on Philip Hitti and his ties with fellow alumni who migrated to the Brazilian city of São Paulo. Examining his first visit to Brazil in 1925, letter exchanges through the 1940s, and a second trip in 1951, I ask how Hitti and São Paulo-based alumni sought to establish an Arab studies program in Brazil. In borrowing a template for studying the Middle East, Hitti and colleagues imbued it with a widespread sentiment that Arab and Muslim legacies of the Iberian peninsula had shaped Portugal, and thus Brazil's historical and linguistic formation. They relocated a model of area studies but refitted its content. In revealing how the institution of area studies moved across and merged with varied sociocultural settings, these diasporic histories provincialize the U.S. model for knowing the Middle East.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-471
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Middle East Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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