By Randa Jarrar
Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mom and a Palestinian father, narrates the tale of her adolescence in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt (to the place she and her kin fled the 1990 Iraqi invasion), and her family's final flight to Texas. Nidali mixes humor with a pointy, loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class kinfolk, and this angle retains her buoyant during the hardships she encounters: the humiliation of dealing with a checkpoint on a trip to her father's domestic within the West financial institution; the fights together with her father, who desires her to turn into a well-known professor and steer clear of boys; the top of her formative years as Iraq invades Kuwait on her 13th birthday; and the scare she offers her family members whilst she runs clear of home.
Funny, fascinating, and heartbreaking, A Map of house is the type of e-book Tristram Shandy or Huck Finn may have narrated had they been born Egyptian-Palestinian and feminine within the Nineteen Seventies.
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Its analysis is focused on the mutual entanglement of two different groups. In this prologue, I have articulated one narrative of such mutual entanglement: China’s social history when read as moments and sites of culture contact because of massive migration and population dispersal. The analytical gaze is at the unspectacular, everyday life fusion and hybridisation that happens when groups share a neighbourhood, a history and memory based on simply living together and solving practical problems of living that requires a certain transcendence of group identities, important as they are.
If we were to look at the ethnic Chinese minority in Bangkok today, it is likely that a large proportion are the wealthier people who have more to gain by maintaining the status quo. ‘Becoming Thai’ would lead to a conflict of interests with the Thai elites. In this sense, the Chinese and Thai elites can be seen as subgroupings of different ethnic categories that assume complementary economic roles in the local environment. They enjoy a selective advantage, for they reduce competition between culturally distinctive groups.
Chinese language was also more widely used when talking with other Chinese. Outside the home, especially when dealing with Thai bureaucrats and Thais in general, Thai was used. 3 Although there was a reduction in the usage of Chinese at home for the ‘Group Three’ respondents, that is those who were supposed to be the ‘most assimilated’ group, a significant 20 per cent still claimed that, in the domestic environment, they spoke Chinese more often than Thai. Closely related to language acquisition is the role of education in the process of assimilation.
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar