All American Yemeni Girls
Being Muslim in a Public School
Publication Year: 2013
Based on more than two years of fieldwork conducted in a Yemeni community in southeastern Michigan, this unique study examines Yemeni American girls' attempts to construct and make sense of their identities as Yemenis, Muslims, Americans, daughters of immigrants, teenagers, and high school students. All American Yemeni Girls contributes substantially to our understanding of the impact of religion on students attending public schools and the intersecting roles school and religion play in the lives of Yemeni students and their families. Providing a valuable background on the history of Yemen and the migration of Yemeni people to the United States, this is an eye-opening account of a group of people we hear about every day but about whom we know very little.
Through a series of intensive interviews and field observations, Loukia K. Sarroub discovered that the young Muslim women shared moments of optimism and desperation and struggled to reconcile the America they experienced at school with the Yemeni lives they knew at home. Most significant, Sarroub found that they often perceived themselves as failing at being both American and Yemeni. Offering a distinctive analysis of the ways ethnicity, culture, gender, and socioeconomic status complicate lives, Sarroub examines how these students view their roles within American and Yemeni societies, between institutions such as the school and the family, between ethnic and Islamic visions of success in the United States. Sarroub argues that public schools serve as a site of liberation and reservoir of contested hope for students and teachers questioning competing religious and cultural pressures. The final chapter offers a rich and important discussion of how conditions in the United States encourage the rise of extremism and allow it to flourish, raising pressing questions about the role of public education in the post-September 11 world.
All American Yemeni Girls offers a fine-grained and compelling portrait of these young Muslim women and their endeavors to succeed in American society, and it brings us closer to understanding an oft-cited but little researched population.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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1. Introduction: Being American, Being Yemeni: Uncovering a Predicament
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Okay, in their eyes, it means you be quiet, you listen, you obey and you gothrough, you listen to what we say, regardless, because we know what?s bestfor you. Okay, in my eyes, it?s not. It?s you take what they say into consider-ation but you also see your own views. You try to?you have to make thedecision on your own. You have to go beyond just what they say, what they?re...
2. American Sojourners Between Honor and Shame
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A modern ??ethnography?? of conjectures, constantly moving between cultures,does not, like its Western alter ego ??anthropology,?? aspire to survey the fullrange of human diversity or development. It is perpetually displaced, bothregionally focused and broadly comparative, a form both of dwelling and oftravel in a world where the two experiences are less and less distinct....
3. Classroom as Oasis
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Webster?s New World Dictionary defines oasis as ??any place or thing offeringwelcome relief as from difficulty or dullness.?? Unlike the hallways or caf-eteria at Cobb High, the classroom offered the Yemeni American stu-dents, boys and girls alike, a sanctuary from social and cultural norms, aplace unlike any other space. Within the school setting, and foremost...
4. Islam and Conflicting Visions of Literacy
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Saba and I went shopping at the mall. She wanted to buy gifts for her friendsand family for the El Eid holiday. I parked the car in the lot in front of JCPenney and moved to open my door. Saba raised her hand without sayinganything and I stopped moving. She closed her eyes and her mouth began tomove silently. I surreptitiously glanced at my watch and saw that it was...
5. The Tensions Teachers Face: Public Education and Islam
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A community, no matter how carefully nurtured and no matter how politi-cally astute and committed to its members, does not sit isolated from the con-tradictory economic, political, and cultural dynamics of the institutions inwhich it resides. Nor does it sit isolated from the race, gender, class, and otherThe growing population of Yemeni students at Cobb High led teachers...
6. From Aspiration to Desperation and Living in Ambiguity
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I?m not going to be nothing when I grow up. I?m a yum-yums. I?m going toLike when I was young, a lot, I would like always, I always like would playwith my cousins. I always would be a teacher. But as they years pass by, youknow. I was thinking of the easy way out, if I could ever continue my educa-tion. You know, if [I] were to be able to go to college, how long does it take to...
7. Living Ethnography: Reflections on Dearborn Before and After September 11
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In 1999, I ended my fieldwork at the Olive Garden restaurant in Dear-born, in the company of Saba, Aisha, Layla, Nouria, Nadya, Sabrina,Mariam, and Mrs. Dunbar, my main contact in the Yemeni communitywho had introduced me to the hijabat and their families. We chose theOlive Garden because it was close to the girls? homes and because the...
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The writing of this book was not a solitary activity. Long before there wasMichael Silverstein and Karen Landahl taught me to question criticallyhow people make sense of their lives through language and culture. Ger-ald Graff and Philip Jackson inspired me to make the intellectual leapfrom theoretical linguistics and cultural anthropology into literacy stud-...
Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2013