Arab American women: Identities of a silent/silenced minority
This study examined the identities of Arab American women when faced with stereotypes and difficult situations related to their Arab ethnicity. The study examined the reported and enacted positionings of 11 Arab American female college students as they talked of past difficult experiences in educational settings during focus groups and online discussions.
The study drew on sociocultural linguistic views of identity as constructed, displayed and indexed through talk. The analysis looked at the women's narration with attention to both the referential content as well as the action of narrating.
The data revealed that Arab American women were aware of stereotypes of Arabs and related groups and that these stereotypes positioned Arabs and related groups as Other and/or as Enemy. Arab American women's coping depended an the nature (Other or Enemy) and directness of the stereotype (whether the women were directly addressed and included within the stereotype or not). The women's reported identities ranged from the least confrontational (being silent) to the most confrontational (speaking up and challenging); their internal coping ranged from extreme inner struggle and discomfort to very little or no discomfort at all. The data also revealed that through their narratives, the women were actively trying to create a new space for themselves as Arab American women. While their enacted identities were characterized by solidarity and affiliation, they were also characterized by the ambivalence and uncertainty of their hyphenated identities.
0453: Womens studies
0631: Ethnic studies
0727: Curriculum development