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date: 24 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Using the Autobiography of Malcolm X, this chapter examines the concept of Muslim American indigeneity and the emerging Muslim American literature canon as responses to a history of contested belonging. I explore Malcolm X’s narrative as a critical commentary on American race relations and what it means to be a Muslim from America, paying particular attention to Malcolm X’s engagement with and ultimate upending of popular tropes of American inception and Muslim representation, namely the Plymouth Rock landing and the image of the Black Muslim. Despite his embrace of “American type thinking”—a focus on public relations in controlling image—Malcolm X’s text reinforces a binary between the diasporic and the national that helps shape our understanding of Islam in America today. Reading Malcolm X’s work as a narrative of contested belonging and as a cultural investment in American “literary Muslimness” offers new insight on current claims to indigeneity.

Keywords: belonging, indigeneity, Muslim American, Muslim American literature, literary canon, rootedness

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