Muslim American Women on Campus

Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life and Identity

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Muslim American Women on Campus
    Book Description:

    Shabana Mir's powerful ethnographic study of women on Washington, D.C., college campuses reveals that being a young female Muslim in post-9/11 America means experiencing double scrutiny-scrutiny from the Muslim community as well as from the dominant non-Muslim community.Muslim American Women on Campusilluminates the processes by which a group of ethnically diverse American college women, all identifying as Muslim and all raised in the United States, construct their identities during one of the most formative times in their lives.Mir, an anthropologist of education, focuses on key leisure practices--drinking, dating, and fashion--to probe how Muslim American students adapt to campus life and build social networks that are seamlessly American, Muslim, and youthful. In this lively and highly accessible book, we hear the women's own often poignant voices as they articulate how they find spaces within campus culture as well as their Muslim student communities to grow and assert themselves as individuals, women, and Americans. Mir concludes, however, that institutions of higher learning continue to have much to learn about fostering religious diversity on campus.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1261-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-29)

    I met Intisar at one of the informal Muslim gatherings on the fourth floor of the student union at the George Washington University campus. Affectionate and dryly witty, Intisar quickly became a good friend despite the fourteen-year age difference between us. She had a ready reserve of self-deprecating immigrant jokes, as did I, but we had arrived in this country under very different circumstances. I traveled from Pakistan to the United States in the early 1990s as a cash-strapped doctoral student. Intisar, along with her large family headed by a widowed mother, had fled war-torn Somalia as a young child....

  5. 2 Muslim American Women in Campus Culture
    (pp. 30-46)

    For undergraduates, college is a life-change that can be exhilarating, terrifying, and confusing. For youth already in the throes of physical and social change, shuttling between their roles as dependents and adolescents, on the one hand, and financially independent adults and voting citizens, on the other. Add Muslim identity to the mix, fold in a post-9/11 nativist racism, and we find that Muslim American college students have some painful growing up to do. Muslim, American, and youth—these identities effervesce and simmer in many Americans’ minds like a chemistry experiment gone wrong. How can these different ingredients harmonize? How will...

  6. 3 I Didn’t Want to Have That Outcast Belief about Alcohol Walking the Tightrope of Alcohol in Campus Culture
    (pp. 47-86)

    Fatima was an adventurous designer of third space identities, a non-hijabi who was at the same time religiously devout, socially liberal, sexually conservative, and politically aware. When Fatima entered the gates of Georgetown, having newly graduated from a strictly Islamic school, she was horrified to find that some of her Muslim friends drank alcohol. Though the overwhelming majority of Muslim theological opinion agrees that intoxicants (beer, wine, and inebriating drugs) are forbidden to adherents of Islam, this ban like most religious taboos is violated as well as observed. Such is also the case with Muslim American college students, men and...

  7. 4 You Can’t Really Look Normal and Dress Modestly Muslim Women and Their Clothes on Campus
    (pp. 87-125)

    “‘Dammit, Jim, I’m a Muslim woman, not a Klingon!’” That cry comes at the climax of Mohja Kahf’s satirical poem “Hijab Scene #3.” The speaker discovers, though, that she cannot escape the perception of her being from another planet: “—but the positronic force of hijab / jammed all of her cosmic coordinates” (Kahf 2003). Like the hijabi in the poem, Muslim American women encounter in their peers’ eyes the vision of the foreign, alien Muslim woman, veiled and subservient to men (Bilge and Aswad 1996), like a pervasive, elongated, distorted self-image in a house of mirrors. As a trope...

  8. 5 Let Them Be Normal and Date Muslim American Undergraduate Women in Sexualized Campus Culture
    (pp. 126-172)

    In this chapter, I show a partial range of voices among Muslim American undergraduate women regarding the thorniest of issues, those most fraught with anxiety—discourses about sexuality and gendered behavior.

    Undergraduates imagine college as a world of freedom, mobility, sexual opportunity, and sexual maturity. Going to college and having sex are closely linked in the popular imagination. As American men and women stay single longer now than they did before, the way college students have sex has shifted from traditional dating to a culture of short-term sex or hooking up, with alcohol facilitating such casual sexual encounters.

    Like their...

  9. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 173-184)

    Muslim women felt the tension of binary identities on campus. Did it have to be a zero-sum game? Did you have to be socially divided from hedonistic campus culture or completely assimilated “into this culture”? Yes, actually, it seemed verymuchlike a zero-sum game when Muslim identities were mauled not only by American military and intelligence actions but also in the social spaces of campus culture, when “that outcast . . . that really foreign belief about alcohol” and hijab, modest clothes, and not-dating clashed with the narrowly conceived “normal” American college student.

    As my participants constructed Muslim American...

  10. Glossary
    (pp. 185-186)
  11. APPENDIX The Research Participants
    (pp. 187-188)
  12. References
    (pp. 189-200)
  13. Index
    (pp. 201-204)