Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes

The goals of this online exhibit are to convey that: 1) Arab Americans have been an integral part of U.S. society since its inception; 2) there is a discrepancy between who Arab Americans are and how they are generally perceived by the U.S. public; 3) this discrepancy is the result of Orientalism: over generalized and distorted images and ideas produced by U.S. institutions, particularly the media; 4) stereotypes of Arabs are part of a longer history of Othering that has been faced by many ethnic groups; and 5) stereotypical representations are not harmless images but come with a range of consequences and impacts. We hope to facilitate a continuous dialogue around these issues in our blog.

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI)

This is the first museum in the world devoted to Arab American history and culture. Its mission includes educating the public on the history of Arab Americans and their presence in the United States. AANM seeks to dispel misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities. Its extensive collections center on immigration, cultural identity and assimilation. The collection spans 130 years, from the early immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the present day. The collection includes all manner of items - clothing, textiles, household items, family and personal items, photographs and music, among others. The collection is uniquely suited to demonstrate the real experience of the Arab American community, including its experience with stereotyping.
www.arabamericanmuseum.org

Note on Copyright

Many of the images used in this online exhibit may still be under copyright, owned by either the publisher or the creator of the work. We believe that by using low-resolution images in these instances, to contribute to our critical commentary on the event, object, film, etc. in question or of the image itself qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other use of these images may be considered infringement on the copyright.

Citing the Exhibit

Full Title: Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes
Author/Publisher: Arab American National Museum (AANM)
Date Created: April 2011
Last Updated: January 2014
 


CREDITS

Funders

This online exhibit was made possible by:

nathan cummings logoThe Nathan Cummings Foundation

The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.

The Foundation owes its existence and inspiration to Nathan Cummings, who rose from impoverished beginnings to become the founder and guiding force of the Sara Lee Corporation. He inherited a spirit of sharing and a sense of community from his immigrant parents and transmitted these values to his children and grandchildren, who now contribute their time and energy to the Foundation. www.nathancummings.org/

ford foundation logoThe Ford Foundation

Created with gifts and bequests by Edsel and Henry Ford, the foundation is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, with its own board, and is entirely separate from the Ford Motor Company. The trustees of the foundation set policy and delegate authority to the president and senior staff for the foundation’s grant making and operations. Program officers in the United States, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America explore opportunities to pursue the foundation’s goals, formulate strategies and recommend proposals for funding.

kresge foundation logoThe Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations by creating access and opportunity in underserved communities, improving the health of low-income people, supporting artistic expression, increasing college achievement, assisting in the revitalization of Detroit, and advancing methods for dealing with global climate change. The foundation works in six program areas: arts and culture, community development, education, the environment, health, and human services. In 2010, the Board of Trustees approved 481 awards totaling $158 million; $134 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. For more information, visit www.kresge.org.

Arts of Citizenship

Arts of Citizenship at the University of Michigan supports faculty, graduate students, and community partners in strengthening and expanding their public scholarship. They do this by bringing University of Michigan faculty into collaboration on projects with graduate students, cultural and arts institutions, government, and community partners; providing grants to support research, creative work, and intellectual conversation that further the public roles of the arts, humanities, and design; and building capacity of faculty, students, and community partners to engage in sustainable collaborative endeavors that enrich curriculum, research and creative work and expand the social capital of community collaborators.

Guest Curator

Evelyn Alsultany, Assistant Professor, Program in American Culture and Arab American Studies, University of Michigan

Research Assistants to Evelyn Alsultany

  • Adam Pascarella, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan (2006-2007)
  • Dahlia Petrus, Graduate Student, Middle East Studies, University of Michigan (2008-2010)
  • Monika Raj, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan (2006-2007)
  • Michael Sackllah, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan (2006-2007)
  • Mejdulene Shomali, Graduate Student, Program in American Culture, University of Michigan (2010)

Advisory Committee

  • Juan Alvarez, Curator of Exhibits, Michigan State University Museum and Professor of Museum Studies, Michigan State University
  • Philip J. Deloria, Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan
  • Kurt Dewhurst, Director of Arts and Cultural Initiatives, Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Michigan State University Museum, and Professor of English, Michigan State University
  • Jonathan Friedlander, photographer, author and collector of Middle Eastern Americana; Former Assistant Director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies at the UCLA’s Young Research Library where his archive of Middle Eastern Americana is located.
  • Salah D. Hassan, Associate Professor of English, Michigan State University
  • Amira Jarmakani, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Georgia State University
  • Yvonne Lockwood, Curator Emeritus of Folklife, Michigan State University Museum
  • Marsha MacDowell, Curator of Folk Arts, Michigan State University Museum, and Professor of Art and Art History, Michigan State University
  • Juanita Moore, President and CEO, Charles W. Wright Museum of African American History
  • Nadine Naber, Associate Professor, Program in American Culture and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
  • Osvaldo Rivera, Treasurer, CLAVE (Celebrating Latino Culture and Arts in Southwest Detroit)
  • Jack G. Shaheen, Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications, Southern Illinois University
  • Ella Habiba Shohat, Professor, Art and Public Policy, Middle East Studies, and Comparative Literature, New York University
  • Michael W. Suleiman, University Distinguished Professor, Kansas State University

Interviewees

  • Anoud Allouzi, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan
  • Evelyn Alsultany, Assistant Professor, Program in American Culture and Arab American Studies, University of Michigan
  • Lori Brooks, Assistant Professor, Program in American Culture and Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan
  • Philip J, Deloria, Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan
  • Jonathan Freedman, Professor, Program in American Culture and English, University of Michigan
  • Colin Gunckel, Assistant Professor, Program in American Culture and Screen Arts and Cultures, University of Michigan
  • Diala Khalife, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan
  • Nama Khalil, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan
  • Scott Kurashige, Associate Professor, Program in American Culture, University of Michigan
  • Noha Moustafa, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan
  • Nadine Naber, Associate Professor, Program in American Culture and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
  • Mohamad Naim, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan
  • Serena Rabie, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan
  • Ella Shohat, Professor, Art and Public Policy, Middle East Studies, and Comparative Literature, New York University

Special Thanks

  • Jonathan Friedlander and the Friedlander Collection of Middle East Americana at the Charles E. Young Research Library at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Randi Korn and Associates
  • Kamilah Henderson and Matthew Countryman at Arts of Citizenship at the University of Michigan
  • William and Elsie Peck
  • Mona El-Ghobashy

Homepage Images

  • Khalid and Joanna, 2008. Flickr user Richard Messenger released under Creative Commons License Attribution NonCommercial 2.0 Generic
  • Rama and Her Friend by Flickr user Héctor de Pereda released under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic
  • The Flame of Araby, film poster, 1951. Universal Pictures.
  • Paralympic Athletes from UAE, 2008. Flickr user \|/_PeacePlusOne released under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic
  • Spicy-Adventure Stories pulp fiction magazine, May 1935 vol 2 no 2. Courtesy of Jonathan Friedlander.
  • Sanka Coffee, 1940s by Flickr user Roadsidepictures released under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic