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:Generational Differences in the Islamic Faith for Muslim Americans
Author(s):Chuang, Kanglin Connie
Subject(s):Oral History
Muslim American identity
Spring 2010
Abstract:This study consists of one 90 minute interview with two current University of Illinois students who identify as second-generation Muslim American, and explores the autobiographical discourse of their ethnic, national, and religious identity, as well as their perceptions of the ethnic, national, and religious identities of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Since identities and cultural practices shifts across generations, due to individual, familial, cultural, societal, and political factors, subjects were asked to give details about their nationality, how long their family has lived in America, their family's origins, how they identify ethnically and religiously, how they think their parents and grandparents would identify ethnically and religiously, and why they think those similarities and differences in their faith exist across generations. They were also asked what factors will influence the next generation’s faith decisions. This research reveals how these two second-generation Muslim Americans perceive affiliation with Islam in American as more of a choice, and for them, a religion more easily distinguished from the cultures of their parents’ background.
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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