Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America

Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America

by Laila Lalami

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Overview

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Sixteen faceted essays thematically connected, asking the question—who belongs? Who is an American citizen? Who is "not quite"? The question is personal and political and Lalami explores the many circumstances that render this belonging conditional status. An elegantly written, poignant meditation on the effects of exclusion and suspicion and what embracing citizenship might mean.

What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­–finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth—such as national origin, race, and gender—that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still their shadows today.
 
Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.
 
Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524747169
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/22/2020
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 41,982
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

LAILA LALAMI was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She the author of four novels, including The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her most recent work, The Other Americans, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Harper’s, The Guardian, and The New York Times. Lalami is a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. She lives in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

Allegiance 3

Faith 29

Borders 48

Assimilation 72

Tribe 93

Caste 117

Inheritance 136

Do Not Despair of This Country 160


Source Notes 169

Bibliography 189

Acknowledgments 193

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