Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies

First Advisor

Jesica Wilkerson

Second Advisor

David Wharton

Third Advisor

John Rash

School

University of Mississippi

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

The Lebanese in Mississippi is a curated open-access online project (www.thelebaneseinmississippi.com) that provides a narrative of a people, dating from the late nineteenth century to present, using multiple forms of audio (including audio documentaries), video, partial transcripts, a concise history of Lebanese immigration to Mississippi, and both portrait and artifact photography. The project explores the lives of first- and subsequent-generation Lebanese Mississippians whose families immigrated to Mississippi. It is an oral record—sometimes a second-hand “remembering”—of the participants’ forbearers’ experiences of settling in a foreign land where they knew few people, did not speak the language, and had to create their own occupations. This oral history project is the collective story of struggles and successes, of maintaining an ethnic identity while assimilating into a new culture. It is both past and present. Heard together, the oral histories in this project provide a picture of a people remembering where they came from and of the struggles of those who came before them. Their stories begin on a ship leaving harbor in Syria and continue today in towns and cities across Mississippi. The goal of this project is to both document and present life histories of this immigrant group in Mississippi, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of the immigrant experience in the American South. My goal, more specifically, is to present Lebanese immigration and life in Mississippi, from the late nineteenth century to the present, within the context of the group’s interaction with both the state’s broader dominant group (whites) and other non-dominant groups (African Americans and other non-European immigrant groups). The more far-reaching objective of this project is to provide access to this material to a broad audience so scholars and a general readership alike may interact with these historical narratives while grappling with the documentary evidence through individuals’ curated stories. Working in the discipline of digital humanities, this new project benefits from the affordances of online digital technology by providing a wider reach and increased accessibility.

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