Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:Muslims, Middle Easterner's, and Stereotypes at the University of illinois
Author(s):Kreager, Stephanie
Middle Eastern
Spring 2010
Abstract:I am going to look into Greek Life sororities on campus at the University of Illinois. I will be looking into if Middle Eastern or Muslim women can participate in Greek life, and to what extent she will be looked into when joining a sorority and not be stereotyped as what most Americans think of when they see a young girl wearing a hijab. I will be researching and interviewing what the stereotypes of the Greek system are and where they come from. In addition, I will uncover what stereotypes are associated with sororities: blue eyes, blonde hair, etc. Also, I will see if the individual sororities have stereotypes for the kinds of girls they want or do not want, or if Muslim girls do not want to join because they think sororities have these stereotypes. I will investigate if there is a pressure to look a certain way when one joins a sorority, even if the pressure seems to be implicit. In addition to interviewing Muslim girls, Middle Eastern girls, and non-Muslim girls, I will conduct research on statistics that are associated with race and religion in sororities on campus. I will be looking into the sororities' ideals and their priorities, which include philanthropy, service hours, study hours, and social life. Moreover, I will research IFC, UGC, BGC and Pan-Hellenic sororities; this includes all 37 houses on campus, with a majority of them being Pan-Hellenic (19). I will observe other sororities which can be seen as more academic and investigate the reasons as to why or why not Muslims and Middle Eastern girls might be more attracted to these types of sororities.
Issue Date:2010
Course / Semester:When did Muslims arrive in the Americas? What is the history of Muslim immigrants in the United States? This course was an introduction to the study of Muslims in the United States. In examining the multiple racial, cultural, and national groups that make-up this diverse community, students questioned what it means to be Muslim in America. The course began with the first contact between Islam and America in the “Age of Discovery” and the African slave trade to think through the roots of Islam and its role in the contemporary moment. In this moment students also examined how indigenous Americans, referred to as American Indians, are conceptualized in relation to the Muslims of Europe and simultaneously racialized. In historicizing Islam students examined the communities who first arrived as crypto-Muslims to understand the place of Latinos in American Islam. Second, students examined African American Islam in its myriad formations. These two examples were then used comparatively to understand how the historical narrative of African American and Latino Muslims is related to newer immigrant populations. In large part, students surveyed Arab American and South Asian American Muslim communities particularly in urban contexts. These later two populations grew through large immigrant waves in the 19th century and the late twentieth century, particularly after 1965. In addition to the multi-racial and comparative perspective, this course examined intra-religious (sectarian) and interfaith differences and dialogues. This material was explored through an interdisciplinary approach focusing on the scholarship mainly from anthropology, history, sociology, religious studies, and ethnic studies. For many of class discussions this course used Chicago as an ethnographic site to explore the complex make-up and history of Muslim America.
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-05-28

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Diversity on Campus/Equity and Access
    This collection examines ways in which the U.S. university and the American college experience are affected by diversity, and difference. In particular, these student projects examine experiences of diversity on campus, including important contemporary social, cultural, and political debates on equity and access to university resources.

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