The place of Middle Easterners in the racial hierarchy of the United States remains relatively unexplored in scholarly research. In this book this authors present the everyday experiences of this population by specifically focusing on Arab and Iranian Americans. Using focus groups and interviews, respondents were asked to comment on their everyday experiences in the realms of public spaces, educational settings, work, housing, and family. Through concrete descriptions and analysis of how Arab and Iranian Americans are confronted with matters of ethnic and racial inequality, this work's primary aim is to debunk entrenched stereotypes by bringing to the forefront the human complexity of the Middle Eastern experience. Marvasti and McKinney argue that the discrimination and exclusion faced by this group cannot be fully understood using the existing paradigm of minority-majority group interactions. The political tensions between the U.S. and various Islamic countries in the Middle East combined with the September 11th terrorist attacks have cast Arab and Iranian Americans as a unique minority group. These facts have created a condition of hostility and suspicion in the daily interactions between Middle Eastern Americans and other Americans that is not faced by any other ethnic group today. At the same time, while there is a growing recognition in the sociological study of race and ethnicity of the so-called 'browning of America,' the research literature does not address how Middle Easterners figure into this demographic shift. This text will fill these general gaps in the race and ethnicity literature by making visible this minority group's everyday experiences and their strategies for coping with and resisting discrimination.
Amir Marvasti is an Iranian-American. He was born in Tehran and moved to the United States in 1983 to escape the Iran-Iraq war. He is assistant professor of sociology at Penn State Altoona. His research interests include race and ethnicity, deviance, and social theory. He is the author of Being Homeless: Textual and Narrative Constructions and Qualitative Research in Sociology. His current research focuses on the immigration experiences of Middle Eastern Americans. Karyn D. McKinney is assistant professor of sociology at Penn State Altoona. Her research interests include race, ethnicity, gender and identity. Her publications include The Many Costs of Racism (with Joe Feagin, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), an article with Feagin and Kevin Early appearing in The Indiana Law Review (2001), and chapters on whiteness, race and pedagogy in edited books. Her current work includes a book on young whites' understandings of race and racism (forthcoming, Routledge).
Chapter 1 How They Came to America and Where They Are Today Chapter 2 Stereotypes of Islam and the Dubious Link with Terrorism Chapter 3 "Us" Versus "Them" Chapter 4 The Stigma of Brown Skin and "Foreign" Names Chapter 5 The Thin Veneer of Civility: Relearning the American Dream Chapter 6 Living with Discrimination Chapter 7 "I Am a Middle Eastern American!:" Ethnic Self-Identification Chapter 8 "Whining" About Social Justice?