Skip to the content

Kansas State University


Salma Abugideiri

Salma Abugideiri is Co-Director of the Peaceful Families Project, an organization dedicated to educating Muslim community leaders and members about domestic violence. She provides educational workshops and develops resources related to domestic violence among Muslims. She has written a chapter in Walking Together: Working with Women from Diverse Religious Traditions, as well as in the edited volume Change from Within: Diverse Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities. She has also co-authored a guide for helping professionals entitled What Islam Says about Domestic Violence. In addition, she is associate producer of the video Garments for One Another: Ending Domestic Violence in Muslim Families.

As part of Faith Trust Institute’s Leadership team, Abugideiri provides training to clergy and faith communities on issues related to domestic violence. She is also a member of the Interfaith Coalition against Domestic Violence, a national effort with a focus on guiding policy and legislation that supports domestic violence survivors.

Salma Abugideiri is also a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Reston, VA. She provides individual and family therapy for a wide range of problems, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, abuse, and cultural adjustment issues. She has worked extensively with Middle Eastern and Muslim families.

Clinical Implications of Domestic Violence Among Arab-Americans

To date, the phenomenon of domestic violence among Arab-Americans has been addressed by only a handful of researchers despite the fact the domestic violence cuts across ethnic lines. A summary of the literature addressing domestic violence among this population will be presented, with attention given to prevalence, clinical implications, and suggestions for prevention. Drawing from personal experience as a mental health clinician, the author will discuss the clinical presentation of domestic violence among Arab-Americans, underlying cultural beliefs that enable the perpetuation of domestic violence, as well as cultural beliefs that can be used to empower women as they seek to end violence in their relationships.

Shamira Chothia Ahmed

Shamira Chothia Ahmed is a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, where she completed her Master's in Demographics and Social Analysis. Her Master's paper looked at the effects of religiosity on community involvement in the American Muslim Population. She received her B.A. in Islamic theology, law and linguistics from Bradford, England. Her research interests include exploring Muslim-Americans in terms of identity formation and negotiation, education, work, civic involvement and religious practice.

Gender, Religious Identity, and Civic Engagement Among Arab American Muslims

Research on the civic and political engagement of Arab Americans is in its infancy relative to research on other U.S. ethnic and religious populations, and knowledge about the participation of Arab American women is particularly scarce. Stereotypes of this group as oppressed and secluded in the home continue to pervade common perceptions in American society, with little empirical evidence brought to bear on their participation in the public sphere. Accordingly, this study examines gender differences in community involvement among Arab American Muslims and assesses the extent to which religion influences their public sphere engagement. Drawing on survey data with 1156 Arab American Muslims, we find high levels of civic engagement for both men and women, a finding that runs contrary to popular beliefs about this group. Moreover, religiosity is positively associated with being involved in voluntary community participation, a finding that again challenges stereotypes that characterize Islam as oppressive of women's public participation. Overall, the findings suggest that Arab American Muslim women are more integrated and active in society than previously believed.

Kristine J. Ajrouch

Kristine J. Ajrouch, Ph.D. is Director of the Gerontology Program and Associate Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University, as well as Adjunct Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Wayne State University in 1997, and then received postdoctoral training in the field of aging through the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. Her research has focused, for over ten years, on Arab-Americans in the U.S. and more recently in the Middle East. She was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Aging to examine social relations and health among older Arab Americans. Dr. Ajrouch has published in numerous national and international journals including the Journal of Gerontology, Social Science and Medicine and Ageing and Society and is active in both national and international professional organizations. She is currently working on a project entitled "Family Ties and Aging" that will examine the strengths and challenges faced by aging families in Lebanon.

Having Seen it All— Stress and Health among Older Arab-American Women

The health status of older adults varies, likely to depend on earlier experiences and access to resources at different points in the life course. This paper seeks to explore factors that influence the health of older (60+) Arab-American women, using both qualitative and quantitative data. Four focus group discussions (comprised of 5-7 women each) were conducted among U.S.-born and immigrant women living in the metro-Detroit area. Stress was introduced as an overarching theme by the women as they referred to both past and present incidents. Narratives that elicit factors influencing health in both a positive and negative way illuminated in some depth the kinds of stress Arab-American women encounter. Stress domains included interpersonal spheres (i.e., family relations) as well as macro-level elements (i.e., environmental characteristics). These findings are then supplemented with survey interview data from 57 older women living in the same geographic area. Regression analyses reveal that some stressors (i.e., low levels of education) are more influential than others (not being married, being an immigrant) on self-rated health. Together, these data provide important insights into the links between stress and health, and draw attention to an understudied segment of women in the Arab-American population—that of older adults. These findings make a valuable contribution to the theoretical understanding of women’s experiences by focusing on the latter part of the life course, considering the effects of cultural and structural forces, and further clarifying the diversity of experiences among Arab-American women.

Nahla al-Huraibi

Nahla al-Huraibi

In Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, Nahla was born and raised in a well-educated family with a great concern for its children's education and commitment to improving society. For the past fifteen years, Nahla has been involved in research and teaching projects concerning women and the family in Yemen and the United States. In 1989, soon after getting married, Nahla pursued her passion for Sociology by joining Sana'a University as a graduate student. Nahla taught in Sana'a University until 1996, when she earned a scholarship from the USAID/Yemen to pursue her graduate studies in the U.S.

In 1999, she earned her Master's from Ohio University by analyzing the results of[o1] research she conducted in Detroit, Michigan to learn about Yemeni-American women's adaptation patterns to cope with being part of two different cultures.

In 2009, Nahla obtained her PhD degree in Rural Sociology, Women and Development, from the Ohio State University. Conducted in the Somali-American community in Columbus, Ohio, Nahla's doctoral dissertation focused on how Islam and gender dialectically influence Arab/Muslim women's lives and empowerment within their local communities on the one hand and in the larger American mainstream on the other. Nahla's research has enabled her to formulate new assumptions in the field of Arab/Muslim women's integration into the American mainstream.

Second-Generation Yemeni-American Women
Between Individual Aspirations and Communal Commitments

This paper is based on data from interviews that I conducted with twenty Yemeni-American women in 1999. The snowball sample of my study was selected from the Yemeni community in Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of the largest Yemeni and Arab populations in the U. S. Sample was drown primarily from the women-only halaqah (circle) at the local masjid.

This study's objective was to describe women's unique strategies and styles of coping with the challenge of responding to two different, sometimes conflicting, demands of being Yemeni and American. The core of this research is how these women struggle to balance being part of American society while maintaining specific aspects of their original culture.

Women in my research were born or have lived in the U. S. for most of their lives. Raised in the Yemeni culture which puts great emphasis on the communal identities and obligations, these women had to negotiate demands of that collective sense of belonging and of individualism, one of the most prominent features of the American mainstream. While doing this, Islam appeared to be the legitimizing reference from which women derive support for their ways of asserting their individual aspirations (mainly their entitlement to high education) whilst fulfilling their group-based roles simultaneously.

Ben Beitin

Ben Beitin, Ph.D., L.M.F.T., is assistant professor of marriage and family therapy at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. He has a doctorate in marriage and family therapy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is first- generation Syrian American. His research has been in the areas of immigration experiences and acculturation in the Arab American community. Dr. Beitin has authored and presented nationally on Arab American families in the wake of September 11, 2001. He is also in private practice and has worked as an advocate for Arab American families in the New York/New Jersey areas.

Arab American Women: Challenges and Triumphs after September 11, 2001

The purpose of this paper is threefold. The first is to describe cultural beliefs about roles of Arab American women and the impact of American society upon those roles. The second is to review the general impact of September 11, 2001 on Arab American women. The third is to review the specific impact of September 11, 2001 on women whose husbands were detained or deported. The discussion will be grounded in the literature, as well as research by the author.

The events of September 11, 2001 were particularly significant for Arab American women. Their identity and religion (Muslim, Christian, and Druze) were called into question and many found themselves feeling pressure to choose between identity as an Arab and identity as an American. Women coped in different ways as some spoke out for Arabs in the United States, trying to educate and advocate, while some did everything they could to avoid standing out.

In addition to the stress for Arab American women following September 11, 2001, there was a small group of women who faced unique struggles. These struggles resulted from the thousands of Arab American men who were detained by the FBI and IRS for questioning and eventual deportation. Consequently, the women, in these families, were forced to figure out how to manage everyday tasks without their husbands -- a role they were not used to and was not congruent with their culture. Despite these hardships, Arab American women showed remarkable strength and resilience during the period following September 11, 2001.

Mohamed Benitto

Mohamed Benitto is a “chargé de cours" at the University of Paris 13, France. He has a master’s degree in English studies, University of Metz, France. He is finishing his doctoral thesis about the Arab community in London. His work scrutinises race relations in Britain and the U.S., mainly intercultural contacts between the mainstream society and the Arab minority. His research interests include Arab minorities in English-speaking countries, multiculturalism, immigration, and identity.

Gender and Intergroup Contact: The Case of Arab Women in the United States and Britain

Coexistence of various ethnic groups within American society made newspaper headlines following the events of 9/11. This contribution, based on survey research and focus group interviews, aims to address intergroup contact in the United States and Britain. In a heterogeneous society, two major tendencies with regard to relation of the Arab community with the mainstream society surface. On the one hand, we notice a tendency to forge a new identity that is deep-rooted in the Arab culture, but with a declared belonging to the host society. On the other hand, there is a tendency of restraint and isolation. This choice of restraint and isolation society is sometimes allotted to the ambivalent feelings generated by cultural disparity and stubborn attachment to certain values and traditions. In this context, our contribution targets the exploration of relationship of Arab women with the mainstream society, with emphasis on the reasons governing the ups and downs of their integration within a new cultural environment.

Jess Bier

Jess Bier holds an M. Phil. degree in geography from the City University of New York, and her research revolves around the lived economies of Arabic-speaking diasporas in the Atlantic region. Her dissertation discusses snapshots from the geography of Arab Americans in the New York City area, 1880-Present, with a focus upon the effects of material life on conceptions of identity and ancestry. Her broader academic interests include migration, postcolonial theory, political economy, localized forms of Orientalism, and the study of gender and sexuality. Her most recent paper "How Niqula Nasrallah Became John Jacob Astor: Syrian Emigrants aboard the Titanic and the Materiality of Language" was published as the lead article in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. She currently holds a Writing Fellowship at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she is assisting in the development of writing-intensive science curricula. In the past, as a fellow and curriculum developer with the CUNY GK-12 Project, she worked to increase access to advanced science courses in public high schools in the Bronx.

Defining "Women's Work" in the Pre-WWI Syrian-Lebanese Communities of the New York Region

This paper attempts to formulate an inclusive understanding of Pre-WWI Syrian-Lebanese women's labor and to determine the ways that understandings of the subject have been shaped by both prior research and the particular types of available source material. What diverse types of work were performed by women of the Syrian-Lebanese communities of the Eastern U.S. prior to WWI? Is there anyway to quantify the types of work women performed in the community? How did women's labor differ from men's labor in these communities? How did researchers of that period define and quantify Syrian-Lebanese women's labor? Which types of work have traditionally been under-represented in historical research on female Arab American labor? What can or cannot be known from the available archival records?

Bridget Blomfield

Bridget Blomfield is an assistant professor of Islamic Studies at University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). She is also the director of the newly-funded Center for Islamic Studies at UNO. Dr. Blomfield is part of a team that combines religion, history, political science and international studies to develop an Islamic studies program for undergraduates eliciting students from multiple disciplines. Her areas of expertise include women’s studies in religion, Sufism, Shi’ism and ritual studies. Her dissertation, “The Language of Tears,” is an ethnographic study of Shi'i Muslim women and their religious rituals performed during Muharram. As part of Dr. Blomfield’s study, she interviewrd 35 Shi’i women from Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan, their American-born daughters and converts to Shi’ism. She became involved with the Shi’i community while she was working at the City of Knowledge School in southern California as a teacher and volunteer. Currently, she is researching Shi’i women from Saudi Arabia and Iraq who live in Nebraska. Most recently Dr. Blomfield has been asked to work as a consultant at UNO to create a curriculum for prison inmates based on the ethics of Malcolm X and the role Islam played in his life..

Daughters of Fatima: Shi'i Arab Women in the United States

This paper addresses Shi’i Muslim women from Iraq and their American-born daughters. The study is a comparison of these Arab American women in Los Angeles, California and in Lincoln, Nebraska. I investigate their religious traditions, daily lives and their roles as mothers, daughters, wives, career women and students and how they locate themselves as Arab-Americans. These Shi’i Arabs hold multiple experiences in their homeland as well as in the United States, as marginalized minorities in both the Muslim and American communities. I describe how they construct their identities as hybrids, trans-nationals, Americans and Muslims. In personal interviews, they discuss the benefits and detriments of practicing Islam in the United States and how that compares to their country of origin. Living in the United States, they have transported their religious rituals as they assimilate into American culture. Their gendered spaces are in their homes and centers where they create religious rituals and cultural values passed from generation to generation.

As part of this study, I examine the religious rituals of these women, their spiritual role models, how they engage feminism and how their religion establishes agency and authority in their lives. This study examines the diversity of these conservatively religious women and how they engage in the private and public spheres.

I also examine their commitment to their religion and how that plays a role in their self-development spiritually and culturally. They explain how they feel about music, women's participation in sports, dating, sex and what it is like to attend mixed-sex classes when their cultural roots demand sexual segregation. These women candidly discuss the benefits and frustrations of being Arabs, Muslims and Shi’i in America.

Louise Cainkar

Louise Cainkar is a sociologist who teaches courses in Social Welfare and Justice in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her forthcoming book (Russell Sage Foundation) Homeland Insecurity: The Arab/Muslim American Experience after 9/11, is based on three years of ethnographic research and more than one hundred in-depth interviews with Arab Muslims in metropolitan Chicago. Her recent publications have appeared in City and Society, Journal of American Ethnic History, Amerasia Journal, Journal of Sociological Practice, Contexts, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, and the Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies. In 2004, Cainkar was recognized as a Carnegie Corporation Scholar for her work on Islamic revival among Arab Americans. Cainkar has also conducted research as public sociology, including authoring an immigrant integration policy for the State of Illinois in partnership with the office of Governor Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and national and local immigrant leaders, as well as a study of barriers and resources affecting domestic violence intervention in Arab/Muslim families, in partnership with Chicago’s Arab American Action Network. Cainkar is a member of the editorial board of Middle East Report and on the steering committee of Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking.

"Gendered Impacts of 9/11 on Arab American Communities"

This paper will be an examination of data on Muslim Arab women’s Post 9/11 experiences as reported in my 2002-2005 study of Arab/Muslims in metropolitan Chicago. The ethnographic study, which included participant observation and one-on-one structured interviews with 102 Arab Muslims, includes interviews with 45 women, both US and foreign born, from a range of social classes and countries of origin/ethnicity. Popular understandings of the time reported women as both less vulnerable and more vulnerable than men. While women wearing Hijab were readily identifiable, potentially subjecting them to harassment, women were largely directly untouched by government anti-terrorism policies. These differences lead one to expect that women’s experiences were significantly different from men’s. On the other hand, since survey data show that Arab American and Muslim American communities as a whole felt targeted by government, media, and public opinion, one might expect to find some commonalities of experience between men and women. One might further hypothesize that immigrant women would interpret what was happening to them in American society and what it meant for their future in a different way than women born and raised in American culture. On the other hand, if community narratives trumped individual understandings of these events, this may not be the case. The paper will analyze interview data to examine these questions. Specific topics to be addressed include: experiences with harassment and hate crimes, sense of safety, experiences with law enforcement, changes in social relationships, especially with neighbors, and visions of the future for Arabs and Muslims in the US. Finally, I will try to draw some conclusions on whether women’s interpretations of Post 9/11 events took shape differently from men’s, examined through the lens of both gender and immigrant generation.

Florence Dallo

Florence Dallo has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas, School of Public Health since September 2006. In her current position, Dr. Dallo teaches courses in Epidemiology and Chronic Disease Health Disparities, conducts research, and mentors Master’s of Public Health (MPH) students. Her primary research areas of interest include disparities in diabetes, especially among Arab Americans (and their subgroups) and immigrants. She is currently gaining skills in effectively conducting community-based participatory research and translational research, so that she can utilize these methods to reduce risk factors for diabetes and other chronic diseases in underserved and uninsured communities. Before joining the School, Dr. Dallo was a Kellogg Health Disparities Post-Doctoral Fellow for two years under the mentorship of Dr. David R. Williams at the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research. As a fellow, she embarked on writing a comprehensive, critical, and seminal review paper on the health of Arab Americans, which is currently under review. Dr. Dallo received her MPH in Epidemiology (Dr. Sherman James, advisor) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and her PhD in Preventive Medicine & Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

"A Profile of Foreign- and U.S.-Born Arab American Women: What Are the Health Implications?"

Background: Arab American women play a unique and dynamic role in the family and in the labor force. However, what remains elusive is whether or not these various socio-demographic and other characteristics of Arab American women vary with nativity status. This comparison is important to make because migration and acculturation have a drastic impact on the trajectory of these women in the US.

Objectives: To compare demographic, socioeconomic, acculturation, and family structure characteristics between foreign- and US-born Arab American women.

Methods: I used ancestry and place of birth data from the 5% Public Use Micro-data Samples of the 2000 US Census. Each micro-data file is a stratified sample (approximately 15.8% of all housing units) of the population which was created by sub-sampling the full Census sample that received Census long form questionnaires. Beginning in 1980, the Census included an ancestry question, which asked, “What is this person’s ancestry or ethnic origin?” The question allows respondents to provide a maximum of two attributions. I used this question to identify those who identified with an Arab ancestry. The Census asks participants their place of birth, and I dichotomize this as foreign- versus US-born. For this paper, there were a total of 25,034 women who identified with at least one Arab ancestry. Of these, 9,323 were foreign-born and 15,711 were US-born. I included the following variables in the analyses: age, marital status, region of residence, occupation, income, English language proficiency, educational status, Arab ancestry identification, and family structure.

To my knowledge, this is the first nationally representative study to examine demographic, SES, acculturation, and family structure variables among foreign- and US-born Arab American women.

Carol N. Fadda-Conrey

Carol N. Fadda-Conrey is Assistant Professor of English at Syracuse University. Her work on US ethnic literatures positions the field of Arab-American literary studies within a US framework while underscoring its transcontinental and cross-cultural connections to the Arab world. Her research and teaching interests encompass thematic explorations of war, trauma, gender, faith and politics, citizenship, transnationalism, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and food as represented in Arab/Arab-American cultural production. By highlighting the varying ethnic, linguistic, religious, national, political, and cultural components of the Arab and Arab-American label, Fadda-Conrey's work calls for a nuanced understanding and representation of Arab and Arab-American identities.

Her essays on Arab and Arab American literature have appeared in Studies in the Humanities, MELUS, and Al- Raida, as well as in the edited collections Arabs in America: Interdisciplinary Essays on the Arab Diaspora (2006) and Arab Women's Lives Retold: Exploring Identity through Writing (2007). She received her BA and MA from the American University of Beirut and her PhD from Purdue University. She has taught English at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, as well as various literature and composition courses at Purdue University and St. Joseph's University, in Indiana and Philadelphia respectively.

Panel Discussant: "Challenges within Arab-American Community and Larger American Society"

Sarah Gualtieri

Sarah Gualtieri

Sarah Gualtieri holds a joint appointment in the Departments of History and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is a historian of the modern Middle East whose research and writing focus on questions of race, gender, and national identity. Her interests reach across fields into immigration history, critical race theory, and ethnic studies. Gualtieri's forthcoming book (Between Arab and White, University of California Press, 2009) examines the history of Arab racial formation in the United States with a particular focus on the problematic of “whiteness.” Specifically, her work explores how Arabs came to be officially classified as white by the U.S. government, and how different Arab groups interpreted, accepted, or contested this racial classification over the course of the 20th century. Her articles and reviews are published in Arab Studies Quarterly, The Journal of American Ethnic History, The Journal of Religion, Radical History Review, and Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She has traveled extensively in the Middle East, and lived in Damascus, Syria for two years studying Arabic and conducting research as a Fulbright scholar. Gualtieri completed her undergraduate studies at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, and received an M.A. in Middle East studies and a doctorate in History from the University of Chicago.

From Lebanon to Louisiana: Afifa Karam and Arab Women's Writing in the Diaspora

This paper explores the life and work of Afifa Karam (1883-1924), a central figure in the early Arabic press in the United States. Karam was born in the village of ‘Amshit, just north of the Lebanese coastal town of Jubayl in 1883, and was the daughter of a doctor in the Ottoman army.

She immigrated to Louisiana as a bride of thirteen and later moved to New York where she worked as an editor at /al-Hoda/. In 1912, she bought the license of one of Salloum Mokarzel’s journals, /al-‘Alam al-jadid/ (The New World), and changed the name to /al-‘Alam al-nisa’i al-jadid/ which catered to female readers throughout the /mahjar./ Karam wrote prolifically on the question of women’s rights in the Americas, and her writings demonstrate the importance of migration to the discourse of female emancipation. Using a range of sources – including newspapers, novels, and interviews – this paper argues that Karam is an overlooked figure in the study of the “woman question” in the Middle East and that the Syrian diaspora was a key site in the rise of an Arab female literary culture.

Carol Haddad

Carol Haddad

Dr. Carol Haddad is a Professor in the School of Technology Studies at Eastern Michigan University, and serves as an adjunct faculty member to the campus-wide Women's and Gender Studies Program, which she directed on an interim basis in 2006-07. Her scholarly publications have focused primarily on technology and work, and gender and technology. She is currently authoring a book on women's use of technology for personal and collective empowerment. She is a 3rd generation Arab American of Lebanese and Syrian heritage, and has spoken and written about identity politics from a feminist perspective. Her founding of the Feminist Arab American Network in 1982 is chronicled in a chapter she authored in Joanna Kadi's volume: Food for Our Grandmothers, and in Evelyn Shakir's book: Bint Arab, and she made a presentation about that herstory at the first AMWAJ (Arab Movement of Women Arising for Justice) national conference in 2006. From 2003-07 she was a member of the Michigan women's dialogue group Zeitouna: Arab & Jewish Women Working for Peace and Justice, and appears in a 2007 documentary film about the group entitled: Refusing to be Enemies.

Second-Wave Arab-American Feminist Activism: The Story of FAN

In 1982, Arab-American feminists came together to decry the lack of discourse within US feminist circles to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the plight of Palestinians. They were also motivated by issues of identity pride coupled with frustration over the lack of attention paid to women’s issues within the Arab-American community. This group of academics and activists, native-born and immigrant women from varied cultural and religious backgrounds united to form the Feminist Arab-American Network (FAN). In its relatively short-lived existence, FAN had an empowering effect on the women involved, and a transformative effect on the face of US feminism. This paper is a case study of the organization, activities, and legacy of the Feminist Arab-American Network. It serves to

  • Identify the internal and external factors that contributed to feminist identity among Arab-American women activists and scholars;
  • Document the ways in which FAN advanced the notion of Arab-American feminism within the women’s movement and within Arab-American organizations;
  • Analyze FAN’s challenges and successes in ways that might inform 3rd-wave feminist organizing, which is occurring in a visible, national way.
  • Maysa Abou-Youssef Hayward

    Maysa Abou-Youssef Hayward is a Professor of English at Ocean College in Toms River, New Jersey. A native of Egypt, she received her B.A. in English from Cairo University and an M.A. in Linguistics from the American University in Cairo. After teaching English for eight years for Cairo University’s Faculty of Education, she moved to the U.S. in 1992. She received her Ph.D. in English in 1997 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, with a specialization in translation studies and Arabic literature in translation. She has taught for Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, and, since January 2004 for Ocean County College, where she was hired to initiate and direct a Middle Eastern Studies Program. Among her courses at Ocean College are Arabic Literature in Translation, Women’s Literature, World Literature and History of the Modern Arab World. Her publications and presentations are in the areas of translation theory, Arab environmental writing, gender issues in Arab and Arab-American writing, and issues of identity and hybridity in Middle Eastern literature.

    Arab American Women Writers Creating Chaos

    I introduce Arab American culture in the classroom as a culture of its own. When my students first read Arab American women writers, the first response is mostly based on a stream of labels associated with their already-situated knowledge of what an Arab woman is. The notion that these writers might be liberal Arabs or non Moslems becomes an initial challenge to my students’ biased set image. It is essential at this point to direct them to the authors’ debate on why they might neither be conservative nor progressive. I create enough chaos in the students’ minds till they reach a point of acceptance that none of the labels operate here and that it is best to analyze the setting and culture in relation to itself and in comparison to may be, other religious institutions, political bogus and so on.

    My teaching approach is based on exploring the text with a focus on identity. In particular, we pay a closer look at place, time, and language. Place is important in thinking about hyphenated or mixed identities, and place is connected with dialogics. In the works I will examine, the characters (like the authors) divide their time between locations in the east and west. Time is also at issue in the process of identity formation. An Arab identity is often connected with an earlier time, with growing up, whereas in the present, the characters (again like the authors) have relocated to the west. Time, however, incorporates indeterminacy in the nostalgia for a previously more certain sense of self and in the anticipation of a new and unknown way of being as the characters visit or revisit the Arab world. Finally, language itself plays a major role in identity formation; writers with a hyphenated identity also face a hyphenated linguistic identity. To explore the act of inscribing and questioning a hyphenated Arab identity, I will consider works by Mohja Kahf, Samia Serageldin, and Diana Abu Jaber among others.

    Amira Jarmakani

    Amira Jarmakani

    Amira Jarmakani is an Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at Georgia State University. Recent publications include her monograph, Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S. (Palgrave Macmillan 2008), as well as articles about belly dancing in the U.S. (in The Cultural Politics of the Middle East in the Americas [forthcoming] and Arabs in the Americas). She works in the fields of Women's and Gender Studies, Arab American Studies, and Cultural Studies, and she is a member of AMWAJ: Arab Movement of Women Arising for Justice and of RAWAN: Radical Arab Women Activist Network. Currently, she is at work on a project about the popularity of the “sheikh” hero in mass-market romance novels, tentatively titled “‘To Catch a Sheik’ in the War on Terror: Reading Sheikh-Themed Romance Novels.”

    Discussant, Panel on "Challenges within Arab-American Community and Larger Society"

    Suad Joseph

    Suad Joseph, at the University of California, Davis since 1976, is Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies. She is the founding Director of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program. She is former Chair of the Women and Gender Studies. She founded the Association for Middle East Women's Studies; the Arab Families Working Group; and the Middle East Research Group in Anthropology (Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association). She also founded the Consortium of American University of Beirut, American University in Cairo, Lebanese American University, University of California, Davis, and Birzeit University. Her research focuses on family, gender, citizenship, and youth in the Middle East. She was awarded the UC Davis Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award, 2004. She is the General Editor of the 6-volume Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (2003-2008), published by Brill, the first such encyclopedia. She edited and co-edited 7 books and has published around 100 articles, book chapters, and targeted circulation research contributions.

    Arab American Women in the "New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal."

    Increasingly, scholarship has offered critical analyses of the representation of Arab women in the media in the United States. Most recent scholarship has recognized that US media often represent Arab women in highly orientalizing fashion -- as oppressed, as highly sexualized, as victims, as uneducated, as non-productive or non-contributing to the economy, and ultimately as needing rescue. This representation is found in popular, scholarly, and journalistic media, and much scholarly attention has focused on deconstructing the political projects entailed in this representation.

    However, very little scholarly work has been done on the representation of Arab American women in the media, particularly in the mainstream print news media. This paper focuses on the representation of Arab American women in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times is arguably the leading liberal newspaper, and probably the leading newspaper in the USA. The Wall Street Journal is arguably the most respected conservative newspaper. Previous analyses carried out by this scholar on these two newspapers documented misrepresentations of Arabs and Arab Americans in these two newspapers, which, given their political differences, was surprising in its convergence. Based on this work, this paper offers a more fine-tuned analysis of the representation of Arab American women in these leading American newspapers. It tests the hypothesis, similar to the scholar’s previous findings, that despite their ideological differences, there is a convergence in the representation of Arab American women in both leading liberal and leading conservative newspapers in the USA. The methodology entails searches through Proquest, with key words, to identify the appropriate news articles and a close reading and content analysis of the articles.

    Mohja Kahf

    Mohja Kahf

    Mohja Kahf, Born in Damascus, Syria, Mohja Kahf is associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Arkansas. Her books include a novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf (Perseus, 2006), a poetry book, E-mails from Scheherazad (U Press of Florida, 2003), and a book of scholarship, Western Representations of the Muslim Woman (U Texas, 1999). Kahf immigrated to the US in 1971 as a young child with her parents. She has lived for spells in the Arab world as an adult, and visits it regularly with her children. Her study of early Muslim women, “Braiding the Stories: The Eloquence of Women in Early Islam” appears in Gisela Webb’s Windows of Faith: US Muslim Women Scholar Activists. Her poems were projected in giant lights on the façade of the New York Public Library as part of an installment project, “For the City,” that included work by Mahmoud Darwish as well. Kahf’s poetry has also appeared in more conventional venues such as the literary journals Mizna, Banipal, the Paris Review, and the Atlanta Review. Kahf is finishing a poetry manuscript about Hajar, Sarah, and Abraham, and working on a book of essays on faith experiences, women, the body, and interfaith conversations.

    Scholars, Artists, and the Anti-Arab Stereotype: Resistence is Futile–and Necessary

    The Arab woman is chained to a harem lattice being beaten by the Arab man. “The West” gallops up on a white horse and saves her. She flings off her tradition and embraces capitalist democracy, The End. This, in crude shorthand, is “The Stereotype,” the dominant story told in US culture about Arab women. I expand this schematic outline of the stereotype into a more sophisticated analysis of its component parts. Informed by Saidian analysis of Orientalism, DuBois' concept of double consciousness, and postcolonial feminist theory, I then outline five ways in which the work of scholars and artists who study Arab gender issues occurs in a discursive environment that is inescapably shaped by the dominant stereotype. The stereotype about Arab women is like the undead in horror films; even when you think you've killed it, it lunges at you again; there is no escape. What do we do about it? Surveying mainly literary writings but with a broad scope of reference, I describe a spectrum of response to the dominant discourse, including work that accepts the stereotype as its foundation and reinforces it, work that takes on apologist functions, and work that performs a double critique that is the root of a constructive Arab-American feminism, one which addresses both sexism within the community and the demonization of the community by powerful outsiders.

    Nicole Khoury

    Nicole Khoury is a Lebanese American second year doctoral student in Rhetoric and Composition & Linguistics at Arizona State University, and works as an instructor in the English department. She received her MA in English Composition from California State University, San Bernardino in 2005 and her Bachelor’s in English Literature from the American University of Beirut in 2002. In 2005, Nicole returned to Lebanon to teach composition at the American University of Beirut for two years. She co-edited a collection of essays, poems, articles for a custom published reader created for the unique student body at AUB, articulating issues that the Arab and Arab American students in Lebanon experience.

    Nicole’s research interest includes Arab and Arab/American women’s arguments and feminisms. Her dissertation research focuses on examining rhetorically an array of Arab women’s writings. Her research explores the various arguments available to women within the social, cultural and political climate of the Middle East, attempting to evaluate the effectiveness of the arguments made by Arab feminist scholars with regards to their audience, within a socio-cultural context, and their relevance to Muslim women in the Middle East.

    Hybrid Identity and Arab Feminism in Arabian Jazz

    In her novel Arabian Jazz, Diana Abu-Jaber attempts to explore the Arab American identity as something new, as an identity that exists related to but ultimately separate from the Arab and American identities from which it is originally created. Arabian Jazz indicates that the Arab American literary community is attempting to move past the discussion of preserving cultural identity, which has been the main focus of much of the works in the canon, to issues that plague some sectors of this multicultural group, such as marginalization, exploitation, and poverty, while attempting to explore an eclectic female identity. This paper attempts to explore the question: How can feminism exist in a multicultural setting without the threat of rejecting cultural traditions? In this paper I discuss the emergence of the depiction of the Arab American female identity in the novel, examine how the characters explore issues of race, class, imperialism, and sex within both the Arab and the American cultures as those issues shape female identity, and rhetorically analyze how identity is shaped and reshaped throughout the novel.

    Yasmin Kronfli

    Yasmin Kronfli is originally from Khartoum, Sudan. In 2006, Yasmin earned a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She recently graduated from the M.A. Humanities program at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland with a concentration in Race and Ethnic Studies.

    The Continuous Reconstruction of Consciousness: A Comparative Analysis of African American and Arab American Female Identity

    This paper analyzes the construction of Arab American female identity using the African American feminist theory of intersectionality. The greater part of this paper will consider a new layer to intersectionality: the function of religion, as opposed to race, in Arab American and Muslim American women's identity. Class, sexual orientation, nationality, chastity, and generational differences are also considered in this paper which aims to juxtapose African American feminist theory with the still forming political and social identity of Arab American women.

    Brahim Labari

    Brahim Labari is a Professor of Sociology at the University Ibn Zohr in Agadir (Morocco). He is associated with the CNRS Laboratory "Gender, Work and Mobility, a team CNRS / University Paris 10 and Paris 8 teacher-researchers, doctoral and postdoctoral researchers focusing on issues of gender, labor and the socio-spatial mobility. He is a member of the reading committee of the International Review of Sociology and Social Sciences Spirit Critical; member of the Association for Research and Diffusion Internationale en Sciences Sociales (ADRISS), member of the International Association of Sociologists and French Language, member of the Core Group "Groupe de Recherche et d'Action for Training and Education", UNESCO. He participated in organizing the international conference "Gender at the heart of globalization, Paris, Ministry of Research 21, 22 and 23 March 2007. Among his major publications, two books Le sud face aux delocalisations and Recettes islamiques et appetits politiques.

    Gender and Intergroup Contact: The Case of Arab Women in the United States and Britain

    Coexistence of various ethnic groups within American society made newspaper headlines following the events of 9/11. This contribution, based on survey research and focus group interviews, aims to address intergroup contact in the United States and Britain. In a heterogeneous society, two major tendencies with regard to relation of the Arab community with the mainstream society surface. On the one hand, we notice a tendency to forge a new identity that is deep-rooted in the Arab culture, but with a declared belonging to the host society. On the other hand, there is a tendency of restraint and isolation. This choice of restraint and isolation society is sometimes allotted to the ambivalent feelings generated by cultural disparity and stubborn attachment to certain values and traditions. In this context, our contribution targets the exploration of relationship of Arab women with the mainstream society, with emphasis on the reasons governing the ups and downs of their integration within a new cultural environment.

    Erik Love

    Erik Love is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work centers on the impact of race and ethnicity, with a focus on activism that attempts to redress racialized inequality. His dissertation, entitled “Confronting Islamophobia,” considers the ways in which civil rights advocacy organizations in the United States work to address racialized discrimination that (problematically) has been termed Islamophobia. This project employs in-depth interviews, a content analysis of archival documents produced by advocacy organizations, and a custom database of organizations which allows for comparative analysis across the field of civil rights advocacy since the 1980s. Research for this project is ongoing in California, Michigan, and Washington DC with support from the National Science Foundation, the Center for New Racial Studies, and the Richard Flacks Fund for Democracy. An article based on this research will appear in a special issue of Patterns of Prejudice in 2009.

    Confronting Islamophobia: Gendered Work in Civil Rights Advocacy Organizations

    This paper considers the effects of gender on civil rights work, as seen in national organizations which advocate for American Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern communities. Among other findings, research presented here shows that women have been instrumental in the founding and growth of several prominent organizations, projects, and campaigns over the past three decades. In spite of the prevalent stereotype of American Arab, Muslim, and Middle Eastern women as “subjugated,” women hold many top-level executive positions in American Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern advocacy organizations. Women in these organizations are as likely to serve as president or in other decision-making capacities as they are to work in administrative or other “behind the scenes” roles. Still, patriarchy affects women in these occupations in many ways, and despite the active participations of women in advocacy work, there are too few examples of issues specific to women becoming goals of American Arab, Muslim, and Middle Eastern advocacy campaigns. Empirical research supporting these findings includes an analysis of archival documents produced by advocacy organizations in addition to interviews with more than 30 staff and board members at several advocacy organizations in the United States.

    Sunaina Maira

    Sunaina Maira is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research and teaching interests focus on Asian and Arab American youth, citizenship, popular culture, and U.S. empire. She is the author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City and co-editor of Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global and Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, which won the American Book Award in 1997. Her forthcoming book, Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire After 9/11 (Duke University Press), is on Muslim immigrant youth and issues of citizenship and empire after 9/11. Her current research is a comparative study of Arab, Afghan, and South Asian American youth in Silicon Valley and she has also published articles on Palestinian and Palestinian American hip hop and linkages between Asian and Arab American studies.

    Arab American Youth in Silicon Valley: Gender and Politics in the Post-9/11 Era

    This paper is based on an ongoing, ethnographic study of Arab American youth in Silicon Valley. It explores the national, (pan)ethnic, and religious identifications of college-age youth (17-23 years) who have been in San Jose since 2001 and the ways these shape their cross-ethnic alliances and political activism in campus and community contexts. The paper will focus on second-generation Arab American women, in particular, many of whom are actively engaged in different kinds of political mobilization based on civil liberties, human rights, and religion that are shaped by the history of the community in Silicon Valley and Northern California as well as the politics of U.S. war and occupation in the Middle East.

    The paper addresses questions including: How are youth politics shaped by transnational movements and Middle East politics as well as U.S. racial and religious politics and campus multiculturalism? How do young Arab American women experience this compared to young men? How does class inflect the political “community” that these youth construct and contest? What kinds of alliances are young Arab Americans creating with other Muslim and Middle Eastern youth, particularly from South Asian and Afghan American communities in San Jose and Fremont?

    Lisa Suhair Majaj

    Lisa Suhair Majaj, a Palestinian-American writer and scholar, was born in Iowa, raised in Amman, Jordan, and educated at the American University of Beirut and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her academic affiliations have included College of the Holy Cross, Amherst College, and Northeastern University. Her articles on Arab-American literature have appeared internationally in a number of books and journals, and she is currently co-editing an anthology of Arab-American Literature for Rutgers University Press. She is also co-editor of three collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers (Garland/Routledge 2000), Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist (McFarland Publishing 2002), and Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels (Syracuse University Press, 2002). In addition to her scholarly work, Majaj is also a creative writer, and has published poetry and creative nonfiction in more than fifty journals and anthologies in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. She has been an invited poet and speaker at many cultural and academic institutions across the U.S., as well as in Germany, Bahrain, Jordan, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Cyprus. Her poetry has been used in art installations, photography exhibits and political forums, as well as in more traditional venues, and has been translated into Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and German. Her poetry manuscript Geographies of Light recently won the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize and is forthcoming. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus.

    Transfigurations: Homespace in Arab-American Women’s Writing

    Arab-American writing in general negotiates a complex space, one informed by an ongoing tension between exile and ethnicity, homelessness and homespace. This complexity is accentuated in the case of Arab-American women writers, whose engagement with gender issues complicates the possibilities of both voice and action. This paper will examine the fiction and poetry of Mohja Kahf, Randa Jarrar and Suheir Hammad, exploring the ways in which these authors move beyond binaries of Arab and American, immigrant and ethnic, and insist instead on transformative acts that transgress boundaries. Focusing on representations of gender as a site of contradiction, resistance and transformation, I explore the ways in which these authors challenge the implicit coding of Arab as patriarchal, American as liberated, and unsettle the linear progression from Arab to American so often assumed in models of ethnicity, suggesting instead a more dynamic, provisional, and transnational articulation of Arab American ethnicity.

    Gregory Orfalea

    Gregory Orfalea

    Gregory Orfalea is the author of nine books, including the just-released Angeleno Days: An Arab American Writer on Family, Place, and Politics (University of Arizona, 2009), which celebrated essayist Richard Rodriguez has called delightful and wise—I don't think Los Angeles has ever received such lovely valentines from a native son. Naomi Shihab Nye found it a wonderful book (by a) stunning writer. And James Fallows had this to say: Southern California has produced its distinct literary voices, from Nathaniel West and Joan Didion to Walter Mosley and Michael Connelly. Gregory Orfalea is the next in this series, with his moving essays about a Southern California culture that will ring true to locals and surprise many outsiders.

    Orfalea's first collection of short stories, The Man Who Guarded the Bomb, will appear in Fall 2009 on Syracuse University Press. He has directed the writing program at Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges in California and currently is teaching Arab American Literature at Georgetown University. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Orfalea divides his time between L.A. and Washington, D.C.


    I will discuss the relationships of the four Orfalea sisters of Cleveland, Ohio, all daughters of First Wave Syro-Lebanese immigrants whose mother was among the first 1,000 Arab women in the United States. These salty, effervescent women&mdashl;Jeannette, Adele, Vernice, and Bette—were my aunts, several successful Arab American businesswomen at a time when that was rare. Their lives were a gloss on the single, unmarried raconteur aunt Evelyn Shakir identifies in her classic study Bint Arab. My Orfalea aunts were all married, yet childless. I wish to explore the unusual roles these women took on; as for me, I felt like I was raised by five mothers.

    As they aged, the burden of their care fell increasingly on my mother Rose, their sister-in-law. Rose Arbeely Awad Orfalea came from a more traditional Arab family than the Americanized Orfaleas. Rose's life, already filled with more than its share of tragedy, was stretched to the limit.

    I will utilize letters, journals, and interviews; Dr. Shakir's research; Arab American women writers; and the essays on Arab American women in Sheherazade's Legacy.

    Anne K. Rasmussen

    Anne K. Rasmussen is associate professor of music and ethnomusicology at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she also directs a William and Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and serves as Chair of the Middle East Studies Faculty, She is a contributing co-editor of Musics of Multicultural America (Schirmer 1997) a book that is an outgrowth of her extensive research and more specific publications based on research among Arab Americans.

    Rasmussen’s articles appear in the journals Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, Popular Music, American Music, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, The World of Music, and the Harvard Dictionary of Music and she has contributed chapters to various edited volumes. She has also produced four compact disc recordings documenting immigrant and community music in the United States.

    Rasmussen’s new book Women's Voices, the Recited Qur’ân, and Islamic Musical Arts in Indonesia is under contract with the University of California Press. She is a former Fulbright senior scholar, has served as the First Vice President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, and is the recipient of the Jaap Kunst prize for the best article published in the field of ethnomusicology in 2001 and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award. In September 2008 she was appointed University Professor for Teaching Excellence, a competitive term chair of three years.

    Performers and Patrons: Women and the Arab American Music Scene in the 20th and 21st centuries.

    This paper reviews and evaluates the role of women as both performers and patrons in the Arab American community throughout the 20th century. My work is based on ten years of consistent fieldwork concerning the historical and contemporary musical lives of the Arab Americans and is grounded in a consistent awareness of and involvement in the Arab American music scene for over 20 years, since 1986. The Arab American music making has featured women musicians, primarily singers with some consistency. Remarkable performers of the 1950s, 60s and 70s include Sana Khadaj, Kahraman, Najiba Mourad, and Hanan Harouni. Today their legacy is complemented by a much newer generation of 21st century women singers and some instrumentalists who are as invested in traditional styles of singing as were the Arab American pioneer women who preceded them.

    Even more important than these singers to the dynamism of Arab American musical life, however, is the power of women as patrons. From the Syrian Ladies Aid Society that organized countless haflat (music parties) on the eastern seaboard cities during the 20th century, to the Arabic music retreat, a formative experience for many 21st century musicians, many of the institutions at the center of Arab American musical and cultural life have been powered by women. This presentation brings to the fore the biographies of a number of the important behind-the-scenes women organizers of the predominantly male music scene who through radio programs, concert performances, and educational fora have helped to give aesthetic shape to this American musical sub-culture and to bind it to community life in ways that are central to the perpetuation of Arab identity and culture in the United States.

    Jen’nan Ghazal Read

    Jen’nan Ghazal Read is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University and is the Director of Postdoctoral Research at the Duke Global Health Institute. As a Carnegie Scholar, she is examining factors that affect the political integration of Muslims in the United States, with the goal of understanding how ethnic and religious diversity of Muslim Americans impacts their participation in democratic processes. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and held a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy and Department of Sociology at Rice University from 2001-2003.

    Gender, Religious Identity, and Civic Engagement Among Arab American Muslims

    Research on the civic and political engagement of Arab Americans is in its infancy relative to research on other U.S. ethnic and religious populations, and knowledge about the participation of Arab American women is particularly scarce. Stereotypes of this group as oppressed and secluded in the home continue to pervade common perceptions in American society, with little empirical evidence brought to bear on their participation in the public sphere. Accordingly, this study examines gender differences in community involvement among Arab American Muslims and assesses the extent to which religion influences their public sphere engagement. Drawing on survey data with 1156 Arab American Muslims, we find high levels of civic engagement for both men and women, a finding that runs contrary to popular beliefs about this group. Moreover, religiosity is positively associated with being involved in voluntary community participation, a finding that again challenges stereotypes that characterize Islam as oppressive of women's public participation. Overall, the findings suggest that Arab American Muslim women are more integrated and active in society than previously believed.

    Amy E. Rowe

    Amy E. Rowe recently completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University. She was awarded a Gates Scholarship by the Gates Cambridge Trust in an international competition in 2004 to support her graduate research. Prior to Cambridge, Amy received a Master’s in theology from Harvard University (2001) and B.A. in anthropology and religious studies from Colby College (1999). Amy conducted fieldwork in 2005-2006 with descendants of Maronite Syrian-Lebanese immigrants in northern New England (USA). Ethnographic research was conducted in community centers, historical societies, businesses, private homes, and most especially in Maronite Churches. Her PhD dissertation, "Lebanese Lives in New England: American Narratives of Assimilation and Ethno-Racial Classification," examined ethnic identity, religiosity, inter-generational transmission of memories, intermarriage, and management of 'heritage.' In April 2009 Amy will begin a postdoctoral research project investigating kinship and identity within the Lebanese Maronite diaspora. This project is funded by a grant from the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, UK) and is hosted at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University.

    Marriage Options and a Role as ‘Keepers of Culture’ for Daughters of Ottoman-era Lebanese Immigrants in New England

    In this paper I query why there were notably higher rates of unmarried second-generation Lebanese women in New England as compared to men. Evidence suggests it was far more permissible for men to intermarry than for women, and with high rates of out-marriage, many second-generation Lebanese women were left with no suitable marriage partners. I analyze why this has been the case, specifically considering issues of family honor as expressed through marriage practices and the role of women as carers for aging relatives. In the second half, I examine the role that many of the unmarried second-generation women have come to play in their families and Maronite Catholic parishes. They typically occupy pivotal positions in their local Lebanese community. Many Americans of Lebanese descent have come to rely on these women to provide essential family (genealogical, historical) information and cultural knowledge. A division of labor has emerged with these women serving as a resource for Lebanese cultural identity while their relatives correspondingly cultivate an American cultural identity. This internal division within the group is worthy of analysis – both for providing historical insights regarding marriage practices as well as for highlighting how ethnic identity is differently experienced for members of a group.

    Therese Saliba

    Therese Saliba is faculty of International feminism at The Evergreen State College and former Senior Fulbright scholar in Palestine. She is co-editor of two collections, Gender, Politics, and Islam (Univ. Chicago Press, 2002) and Intersections: Gender, Nation, and Community in Arab Women's Novels (Syracuse UP, 2002). Her essays on Arab and Palestinian feminisms, postcolonial literature, media representations, and Arab American experience have appeared in numerous journals and collections, including MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies special issue, “Gender, Nation and Belonging: Arab and Arab American Feminist Perspectives”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Arabs in America: Building a New Future, Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers, and Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists. She is also former associate editor of Signs, and producer, with Tom Wright, of Checkpoint: The Palestinians after Oslo (1997). Saliba is currently associate editor of the online Brill Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, and a board member of The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice.

    Gender and Community Impacts of Arab & Muslim Detentions in the US

    This essay examines the gendered impacts of post-9/11 detentions and national security policies on Arab American communities, as well as the often gendered representations and legal arguments surrounding detentions. With the rise of the Global War on Terrorism and the radicalization of Muslim communities, we have seen an increase in surveillance, detentions, torture, militarization, and security technologies tied to controlling political dissent, “terrorism,” and immigration. The Department of Homeland Security often claims victory in “war on terrorism” through the conviction and deportation of Arab and Muslim men, whose vilification is fueled by media representations. However, little attention has been given to women detainees, or to the impact of these policies on the lives of Arab American women, families, and communities. This essay examines stories of women detainees, as well as wives, mothers, and daughters of male detainees, and women organizers working to counter the suppression of political and human rights. It examines how gender issues and perceptions play a role in media representations, legal arguments, and community activism around detentions.

    Helen Hatab Samhan

    Helen Hatab Samhan is Executive Director, the Arab American Institute Foundation in Washington D.C., an affiliate of the Arab American Institute which has represented Arab American issues in politics, elections, leadership training and public policy since 1985. Before joining the Institute, Ms. Samhan served for four years as Assistant Director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), and in the late 1970s was affiliated with the American-Arab Association for Commerce and Industry in New York City where she served as director of research.

    Ms. Samhan lectures and publishes on Arab American affairs, particularly the immigrant experience of Arabs in the U.S., their identity and demographics, the history of anti-Arab racism, political involvement and Arab American women. She directs the Census Information Center at the Arab American Institute and represents Arab Americans on the Decennial Census Advisory Committee. Her advocacy includes presenting testimony before federal agencies and the U.S. Congress. Ms. Samhan serves on numerous boards and holds a master’s degree in Middle East studies from the American University of Beirut and a bachelor’s degree in French from Marymount College in Tarrytown. New York.

    Arab American Gender Differences in Political/Ethnic Identity and Behavior

    This presentation explores a number of identity and behavior trends among Arab American women in the political and civic arenas. A principal tool in this research will be to study national surveys of Arab American opinion, conducted between 2000 and 2008 by Zogby International. Female responses as they compare to males will be one measure, as well as how female behavior might differ by age, nativity, religion and party affiliation. Questions studied since 2000 range from primary identity and strength of ethnic ties to candidate preferences and views on major national issues. Surveys conducted since 2001 include questions on post-9/11 factors such as discrimination and changes in ethnic pride. Another perspective of this study will be to look at anecdotal evidence of trends in Arab female participation in American politics. Tools available for this perspective will be membership in AAI’s Arab American Leadership Council since the mid 1980s. Data available on Arab American registered voters compiled in 2008 will also be reviewed to assess percentages of female registration in this ethnic constituency as compared to the general population, and participation in the Yalla Vote project, as interns or volunteers, will be analyzed by gender to establish trends among the younger generation of emerging activists

    Loukia K. Sarroub

    Loukia K. Sarroub received her Ph.D. in Education from Michigan State University and her AB in Linguistics from the University of Chicago. As an educational anthropologist, Dr. Sarroub is interested in exploring language and literacy as cultural and sociological phenomena, where issues of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, language use, social class, gender, nationality, and culture, among others, are highly politicized. She is the author of All American Girls: Being Muslim in a Public School, which is based on 26 months of fieldwork in the Yemeni American community in Dearborn, Michigan. Currently, Dr. Sarroub is conducting fieldwork in an Iraqi refugee community and is exploring students' literacy practices in and out of school. She is also examining how "reading" is taught at the high school level to accommodate both multiple populations, such as the Iraqis and other refugees, and American students who struggle with literacy. Dr. Sarroub has published articles in journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Reading Research Quarterly, Ethnography and Education, Theory into Practice, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly, among others. She serves on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Literacy Research and Research in the Teaching of English.

    Transnational Literacy Practices in and out of School among Yemeni American and Iraqi Youth

    In this paper I examine how immigrant youth and families from Iraq and Yemen create and maintain transnational spaces in and out of school in the Midwest. Trans-nationalism, as it relates to education, demonstrates both the local and global tensions of refugees, immigrants, and non-immigrant Americans as they interact in shared cultural sites. Trans-nationalism is thus evoked through particular literacy practices that foster both secular and religious gendered identities as Middle Eastern and American cultural norms are negotiated across institutions and educational structures. This paper explicates the ways school and home serve as the "imagined communities" for individuals and families whose daily lives are governed to a great extent by conceptions of their country of origin normative values, as well as by ongoing political events in the Middle East.

    Garbi Schmidt

    Garbi Schmidt is a senior researcher at the Danish National Centre for Social Research in Copenhagen. She is a program director of the ethnic minorities’ research program. Besides, she is a member of the steering committee of the Academy of Migration studies in Denmark and co-founder and president of the Danish Forum for Islamic Studies. She has carried out research among immigrant Muslim communities in the United States, Sweden and Denmark. Key publications include Islam in Urban America: Sunni Muslims in Chicago (Temple University Press, 2004) and Muslim i Danmark, muslim i verden: en analyse af muslimske ungdomsforeninger og muslimsk identitet i årene op til Muhammad-krisen (Swedish Science Press, 2007). Besides continuing her work on Muslim immigrants in Western contexts, her research projects include perspectives on transnational marriages and family practices among Pakistani and Turkish immigrants living in Denmark.

    Dealing with Crisis: A Comparison of Reactions in the U.S. Post-911 and Denmark after the Cartoon Crisis.

    The 9-11 terrorist attacks and the Danish Cartoon Crisis (2005-2006) are prominent examples of recent events raising negative attention on Arab/Muslim communities in Western countries. Although the two events are different in many respects, they also share many similarities. Firstly, in both countries the events strengthened the position of political sentiments and actors portraying Muslims and Arabs as disloyal and untrustworthy citizens. Secondly, the two events increased the engagement of Muslim and Arab organizations with surrounding societies and did, in certain respects, refocus and reshape these efforts.

    The paper builds on ethnographic data collected among Arab/Muslim organizations in Washington DC and Copenhagen, Denmark, shortly after the two events of crisis. The paper describes the activism and renewed orientations towards faith-based and national communities that the crisis situations fostered among Arab/Muslim communities, paying particular attention to the role of the communities’ women. Arab/Muslim women, especially when wearing the Muslim veil, have for long been visible – and thus discussed and even contested - symbols of the presence of Islam in Western societies. How did the two crisis situations affect the lives of these women, in particular their access to influence both outside and within their communities?

    Rita Stephan

    Rita Stephan is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and a research fellow at the Lebanese Emigration Research Center at Notre Dame University in Lebanon. Her dissertation topic is The Family and the Making of Women’s Rights Activism in Lebanon. She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women’s Dissertation Fellowship and the PEO Providing Equal Opportunities for Women’s Scholar Award. Her publications include an article in Hawwa Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World on “Arab Women Writers Reclaiming the Sexual Discourse” and a chapter on “The Veil and Sexuality: The Perspective of Arab Christian Women” in The Veil: Women Writers on the History, Lore and Politics of the Head Covering, from Burqas to Hijab, Wigs to Wimples edited by Jennifer Heath, University of California Press. She has a forthcoming article on “Couples’ Activism for Women’s Rights in Lebanon: The Legacy of Laure Moghaizel” in Women Studies International Forum and a chapter on “Leadership of Lebanese Women in the Cedar Revolution” in Muslim Women in War and Crisis: from Reality to Representation, edited by Faegheh Shirazi, University of Texas Press.

    Claiming Ethnic Citizenship in Crisis: Lebanese-American Women in the 2006 War

    The 2006 war that erupted between Hizbollah and Israel in Lebanon was marked by the largest evacuation of Americans abroad since World War II, the majority of whom were Lebanese-American women. This paper captures the experiences of these women during this evacuation by addressing a significant sociological dilemma of modern politics: How is the claim to citizenship of minorities asserted and recognized when their ethnicity and nationality are in conflict? How does gender influence this claim? By what strategies do people negotiate their ethnic belonging and national identity during crisis? Using Albert O. Hirschman’s Exit/Voice/Loyalty framework, this paper analyzes the rationales that Lebanese-American women adopted in their behavior during the evacuation. The options that women perceived and chose in a life and death crisis are explored as well as factors that influenced their choices of evacuation. In engaging the literature and experiences of Arab-Americans and other minorities in the United States, the three most serious challenges to the contemporary institution of citizenship—ethnicity, gender and trans-nationality -- are also discussed. Carried forward by a participant-observer narrative and personal interviews, this study shows that family, home, and citizenship are fluid terms that cross geopolitical boundaries.

    Michael W. Suleiman

    Michael Suleiman

    Michael W. Suleiman is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Kansas State University and former Department Head (1975-1982). Dr. Suleiman received several research awards to do research on Arab Americans, including a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship (Fall 2005), an Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, Princeton, NJ (1994-95); and a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant (1989-1991). Other fellowships include a CIES-Islamic Civilization grant (1984); and Fulbright Hayes Fellowships (2004, Summers 1993, 1991 and 1983-84). Among his publications on Arab Americans are The Arab-American Experience in the United States and Canada: A Classified Annotated Bibliography (2006); Arabs in America: Building a New Future (1999), editor and co-author; Arab Americans: Continuity and Change (1989), co-editor and co-author; The Arabs in the Mind of America (1988); and American Images of Middle East Peoples: Impact of the High School (1977). Suleiman serves on the Editorial Boards of the following journals, Arab Studies Quarterly, Maghreb Review, and Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, AAUG (President, 1977) and Middle East Studies Association of North America, MESA (1980-82). He is “Special Consultant and Historian” and a member of the Board of Directors of the Arab American National Museum.

    Michael W. Suleiman is the organizer/convener of the Conference on Arab-American Women. He plans to edit the papers before sending them out to a potential publisher.

    Lucy Thiboutot

    Lucy Thiboutot

    Lucy Thiboutot, a native Minnesotan, is a candidate for the Master of Arts in Arab Studies at Georgetown University. After graduating from Williams College with a major in Comparative Literature, she set off to explore two other passions: teaching and the Arab world. As a pre-kindergarten teacher at the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon, Ms. Thiboutot gained two years of rich experience that led her to the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, where she now works as assistant to the Director of Educational Outreach. Concentrating in Culture and Society of the contemporary Arab world, her current academic focus is Arab-American literature. Ms. Thiboutot is also fluent in French, and has studied in Dakar, Senegal and Paris, France.

    Scheherazad Goes Arab-American: E-mails from Scheherazad and Mohja Kahf’s Identity Story

    Why choose a title like E-mails from Scheherazad? What’s in a name? With Scheherzad as her muse, Mohja Kahf is armed and ready to fight a slew of stereotypes about who she is, where she comes from, and what her words mean. In “reclaiming” Scheherazad, Kahf acknowledges the power that each of us has to tell our own story and write our own identity. The paper analyzes the choice of Scheherazad as a focal point, through the lenses of Arab American critic Steven Salaita writing on Anti-Arab Racism in the USA; Moroccan feminist Fatema Mernissi on the difference in interpretation of Scheherazad in the East and the West; literary historian Eva Silla on the transformation of Scheherazad through translation; and other Arab American authors and editors who engage with Scheherazad. Through careful analysis of Kahf’s literary technique, we see that her retelling of Scheherazad’s story proves that narration is power, and it is the writer who holds the power. In her collection of poetry, she engages stereotypes in a way that opens up a space for dialogue for Arab American women, but also for all readers. She is sending us all e-mail, and she is waiting for a written reply.

    Emily Wills

    Emily Wills

    Emily Regan Wills is a PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at The New School for Social Research in New York City, where she studies Middle Eastern and gender politics. She also holds a BA in Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies from Yale University, and an MA in Politics from The New School. Her research centers on the relationships between texts and politics, particularly the role of political discourse and discourse communities in political action. Her dissertation analyses Arab-American political discourse, particularly how new ideas about democracy, gender, and Middle Eastern politics are contested and developed in the diasporic context. She also has a long-standing interest in methodological issues, particularly interpretivist methods in political science, the integration of political theory with empirical research, and normatively-driven research methods.

    Arab-American Women Organizing

    Women are central players in many, if not most, Arab-American political organizations, from national political organizations to local community-service groups, and the average Arab-American woman is more likely to be involved in a community organization than the average Arab-American man. What is the experience of women doing this organizing? What sorts of discourses about the Arab-American community, about women's place in it, and about the values and goals of their organizations and the communities as a whole do women working in this field develop through their work? Are ideas and analysis generated by those who call themselves Arab-American feminists echoed by those working elsewhere in the Arab-American community? This paper will be based on interviews with women working in Arab community organizations in New York City, particularly using the tools of ordinary language interviewing, which explores meaning and concepts through everyday understandings of the terms used in political discussion. In addition, it will begin to develop an analysis of how New York and Detroit can be seen as counter-cases within the field of Arab-American studies.