Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month
April is Arab American Heritage Month and all of last month we have been highlighting resources to learn more about Arab American issues. Below we recap those resources.
National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) celebrates the heritage, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. Immigrants with origins from the Arab world have been arriving to the United States since before our country’s independence and have contributed to our nation’s advancements in science, business, technology, foreign policy, and national security.
According to the Arab American Institute, “Today, it is estimated that nearly 3.7 million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country. Arab Americans are found in every state, but more than two thirds of them live in just ten states: California, Michigan, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Metropolitan Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York are home to one-third of the population.” Ohio has one of the fastest growing Arab populations in the country.
Selected Resources to Learn More for Arab American Heritage Month
Take the ABA’s 21-Day Practice on Creating Inclusive Spaces and Combating Islamophobia.The Practice invites participants to complete a syllabus of 21 daily, short assignments (typically taking 15-30 minutes), over 21 consecutive days, that includes readings, videos, or podcasts. The assignments seek to expose participants to perspectives on elements of the Muslim American experience, including perspectives on Muslim history, identity and culture, and the experience of anti-Muslim bias in America, there are assignments that focus on the unique experience of Muslim lawyers in America, as well as assignments that explore how lawyers of all races can and must share in the work of bringing greater racial equity to the legal profession. This syllabus is but an introduction to what we hope will be a rewarding journey that extends far beyond the limits of this project.
This volume traces one hundred years of the dynamic engagement of Arab American women in the political, social, economic, intellectual, and artistic life in the U.S.
This monograph focuses on the assimilation of the early Arabic-speaking Syrian immigrants to the United States and the significant role that peddling played in the process. The material for this study was gathered from the testimonies of pioneer immigrants, their descendants, and successors. The document describes the land, history, and society of greater Syria prior to emigration, the migration process itself, cultural adjustment to American society, the techniques employed and the personal experiences of those who engaged in ‘pack peddling’, and the transformation of Syrian immigrants to Syrian-Americans.
Countless generations of Arabs and Muslims have called the United States “home.” Yet while diversity and pluralism continue to define contemporary America, many Muslims are viewed by their neighbors as painful reminders of conflict and violence. In this concise volume, renowned historian Yvonne Haddad argues that American Muslim identity is as uniquely American it is for as any other race, nationality, or religion. Becoming American? first traces the history of Arab and Muslim immigration into Western society during the 19th and 20th centuries, revealing a two-fold disconnect between the cultures—America’s unwillingness to accept these new communities at home and the activities of radical Islam abroad. Urging America to reconsider its tenets of religious pluralism, Haddad reveals that the public square has more than enough room to accommodate those values and ideals inherent in the moderate Islam flourishing throughout the country. In all, in remarkable, succinct fashion, Haddad prods readers to ask what it means to be truly American and paves the way forward for not only increased understanding but for forming a Muslim message that is capable of uplifting American society.
Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora traces the production and circulation of discourses about “the Middle East” across various cultural sites, against the historical backdrop of cross-Atlantic Mahjar flows. The book highlights the fraught and ambivalent situation of Arabs/Muslims in the Americas, where they are at once celebrated and demonized, integrated and marginalized, simultaneously invisible and spectacularly visible. The essays cover such themes as Arab hip-hop’s transnational imaginary; gender/sexuality and the Muslim digital diaspora; patriotic drama and the media’s War on Terror; the global negotiation of the Prophet Mohammad cartoons controversy; the Latin American paradoxes of Turcophobia/Turcophilia; the ambiguities of the bellydancing fad; French and American commodification of Rumi spirituality; the reception of Iranian memoirs as cultural domestication; and the politics of translation of Turkish novels into English. Taken together, the essays analyze the hegemonic discourses that position “the Middle East” as a consumable exoticized object, while also developing complex understandings of self-representation in literature, cinema/TV, music, performance, visual culture, and digital spaces. Charting the shifting significations of differing and overlapping forms of Orientalism, the volume addresses Middle Eastern diasporic practices from a transnational perspective that brings postcolonial cultural studies methods to bear on Arab American studies, Middle Eastern studies, and Latin American studies. Between the Middle East and the Americas disentangles the conventional separation of regions, moving beyond the binarist notion of “here” and “there” to imaginatively reveal the thorough interconnectedness of cultural geographies.
With Stones in Our Hands compiles writings by scholars and activists who are leading the struggle to understand and combat anti-Muslim racism. Through a bold call for a politics of the Muslim Left and the poetics of the Muslim International, this book offers a glimpse into the possibilities of social justice, decolonial struggle, and political solidarity.
Databases & Media
Beatrice Alvarez, Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month, PBS (Mar. 31, 2022). Every April, PBS celebrates Arab American Heritage Month by sharing films about Arab American communities and documentaries by Arab American filmmakers.
Arab American Stories is an Emmy Award-winning 13-part series presented by Detroit Public Television that explores the diversity of the Arab-American experience. The series was produced by Alicia Sams (who was also the producer/director of the Emmy Award-winning film By the People: The Election of Barack Obama) and is hosted by NPR’s Neda Ulaby. Each half hour features three short, character-driven documentaries produced by a variety of independent filmmakers which profile Arab Americans making an impact in their community, their profession, their family or the world at large. Each week we will meet 3 different Arab Americans whose stories are juxtaposed around a particular theme. The series features people of all walks of life whose stories illustrate the Arab-American experience: artists, scientists, musicians, chefs, actors, entrepreneurs, police officers and educators.
A collection of e-journals at the University of Cincinnati regarding Arabic language or news.
Full text articles from newspapers and periodicals published by the ethnic and minority press in America¸ some dating back to 1985.
Coverage: Full Text; 1985 – present
A set of search results from Films on Demand that cover films on Arab Americans.
Arab communities in the diaspora have been active in publishing their own newspapers and journals all over the world. Although not all these newspapers are published primarily in Arabic, they all deal with the news of the Arab communities in those countries, as well as the Arab World as a whole, each from its own perspective.
Virtual Exhibits & Historical Resources
Arab American National Museum (AANM) – The Arab American National Museum (AANM) is the first and only museum of its kind in the United States devoted to recording the Arab American experience.
Arab American History and Culture, Smithsonian – In 1962, Dr. Alixa Naff set out to tell the story of Arab immigrants from Syria and Lebanon. In addition to investigating an area that had received little scholarly attention, her use of oral history as the basis of the research was innovative. In 1984, Naff donated her collection including the oral histories, archival materials, and artifacts to the National Museum of American History. You can read about her in “Voices from the past: Arab American Oral Histories” and explore items from her collection and others related to Arab American history and culture from across the Smithsonian. Faris and Guide to the Faris and Yamna Naff Arab American Collection.
The Arab American Historical Foundation – The Arab American Historical Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promote research, preservation and dissemination of Arab American history and culture, enhancing and building better understanding of Americans of Arab descent.