Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"What Are You?": Exploring the Lived Identity Experiences of Muslim Immigrant Students in U.S. Public School
by Tindongan, Cynthia W., Ph.D., Ohio University, 2012, 296; 10631296
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the lived identity experiences of Muslim immigrant students in a small college town in the Midwest. The research considers the perceptions of Muslim students as they negotiate their multiple identities, namely their Muslim and/or ethnic identities, within their schooling experience in the United States. Given the historical and current implications of colonialism, postcolonialism, and transnational issues for immigrants, the theoretical framework for this study centered on postcolonial and transnational theories as both methodological and analytic approaches.

In this study I worked with a small group of adolescent Muslim students and their parents over a three-month period. I employed qualitative research methods including focus groups, photovoice, and in-depth interviews. Photovoice is a participatory qualitative research methodology in which the participants take photos of themselves, family, friends, and community over the course of a pre-determined period of time (Wang and Burris, 1997). Following the photovoice project I conducted in-depth interviews with participants to discuss the meaning they attached to their photographs.

Six themes and three meta-themes emerged in my analysis of the data. These themes identify the factors that impact the lived experiences of the Muslim youth in my study as they negotiated their identities in this U.S. context. The themes are: 1. School, Teachers, and Peers; 2. Impact of a Small-town, Rural Environment; 3. Time and Space for Islam; 4. Impacts of 9/11; 5. Muslim Identity; and 6. Negotiating Identity. The meta-themes are: 1. Belonging; 2. Resilience; and 3. Living in Liminal Space. In the analysis of my data I sought to reconcile two seemingly oppositional conclusions. On the one hand, students and parents appeared relatively satisfied with their status as Muslim minorities in public schools. They maintained that they like their schools, appreciated the teachers' efforts to be inclusive, enjoyed the same treatment as their peers, and had many close friends. On the other hand, points of conflict existed. While the small college town is reportedly a positive environment for Muslim families, some of the participants conveyed their ambivalence as outsiders within the mainstream U.S. cultural environment. Lastly, I included recommendations for practice for educators as well as recommendations for further study.

Indexing (document details)
Commitee: Chawla, Devika, Collins, Elizabeth, Hutchinson, Jaylynne, Johnson, Jerry
School: Ohio University
Department: Curriculum and Instruction Cultural Studies (Education)
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology
Keywords: Identity politics, Immigration and education, Muslim children, Post-9/11, Postcolonial, Transnational
Publication Number: 10631296
ISBN: 978-0-355-01557-7
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