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Arab Americans in Michigan

Rosina J. Hassoun

Publication Year: 2005

The state of Michigan hosts one of the largest and most diverse Arab American populations in the United States. As the third largest ethnic population in the state, Arab Americans are an economically important and politically influential group. It also reflects the diversity of national origins, religions, education levels, socioeconomic levels, and degrees of acculturation. Despite their considerable presence, Arab Americans have always been a misunderstood ethnic population in Michigan, even before September 11, 2001 imposed a cloud of suspicion, fear, and uncertainty over their ethnic enclaves and the larger community. In Arab Americans in Michigan Rosina J. Hassoun outlines the origins, culture, religions, and values of a people whose influence has often exceeded their visibility in the state.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgements

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Introduction and Demographics

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pp. 1-16

A story is told in the Arab-American community about a Yemeni sailor from Aden, working as a merchant marine on the Great Lakes, who had a chance encounter with Henry Ford, the automobile mogul, in the early 1900s. That chance encounter is said to have started a chain migration of Yemeni Arabs to Dearborn, Michigan. As part of the oral history of Dearborn’s Southend, there are several versions of the story about Henry Ford and the Yemeni sailor. In one version, Henry Ford...

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The Origins of Arab Americans in Michigan

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pp. 17-20

Although Arab immigrants in the United States have come from all of the twenty-two Arab-speaking countries, including the Occupied Territories, the majority of Arab Americans have come from the Levantine, or Fertile Crescent area (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq), and Yemen.21 The five major groups of Arab immigrants to the United States are: Lebanese (both Christian and Muslim), Iraqis (including sizable numbers of Christian Chaldeans, Christian...

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Understanding General Patterns of Arab Settlement

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pp. 21-26

In general, Arab Americans came to the United States by chain migrations. 28 In this type of migration, the first member of the family to arrive (usually a male family member) will attempt to bring his or her immediate family, other relatives, and friends to the United States. As noted in the author’s research, often Arab-American males have brought their parents to the United States, in order to care for them in their old age.29 Brothers, sisters, and cousins often followed. Most immigrants to the United States have shared this pattern of chain migration. Periodically, U.S. Immigration laws and various push and pull factors...

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Selected Histories by Geographic Areas

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pp. 27-40

Syrian/Lebanese immigrants started arriving in Flint in the early 1900s. Hani Bawardi, in his thesis, recounts the story of three brothers from the Marjayoun area in Southern Lebanon who founded three separate dynastic families in Flint: the Joseph, Salim, and Barakat families.39 However, Palestinian Christians from the town of Nazareth were also among the early Arab immigrants to Flint. Ameen Farah, a...

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The History of Arab Immigration to Southeast Michigan

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pp. 41-50

Although the two historical staging areas for Arab migration in Metropolitan Detroit (Dearborn’s Southend and the Seven Mile/ Woodward area) date back to the original founding of the Arab and Chaldean populations in Detroit, there has been considerable fluidity in the settlement patterns within the tri-county area over the last century of Arab migration. In the Metropolitan Detroit tri-county Arab- American population...

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Special Topics Concerning Arab Americans in Michigan

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pp. 51-56

The climate and environment of Michigan differ greatly from those of the original homelands of Detroit’s Arab immigrants. The climate of Detroit, with its cold, snowy winters and relatively mild, humid summers, is a radical departure from the Mediterranean climate. Many Arabs complain that they dislike the cold and snow and miss the mild climate that allowed them to walk outside year-round.79...

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pp. 57-61

From the first early Syrian/Lebanese seeking work in door-to-door sales and the first Yemeni to encounter Henry Ford and work in the automobile factories to the most recent Arab immigrants, Arab Americans have been a part of Michigan history for over a hundred years.
The tragedy of September 11, 2001, unfortunately caused many Americans to become suspicious of the Arab-American community, while the shock of the attacks caused trauma in an Arab-American...

Appendix 1: A Gift from the Hassoun Family to the People of Michigan

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pp. 63-64

Appendix 2: Resources

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pp. 65-66


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pp. 67-73

For Further Reference

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pp. 76-78


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pp. 79-84

E-ISBN-13: 9781609170462
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870136672

Publication Year: 2005