AASA Events at MESA Nov 21-23, 2015

AASA Events at MESA Nov 21-23, 2015

AASA – American Studies Association Board Meeting (board members only)

Saturday, November 21, 3-4 pm, PC-Plaza Court 7

AASA – American Studies Association Business Meeting (open to the public)

Saturday, November 21, 4-5 pm, PC-Plaza Court 5

R4057] Ethnic Minority or White? Social and Economic Lives of Arab Americans (Sunday, 11/22/15 11:00am)

      According to federal guidelines on race and ethnic measurement, persons from the Middle East and North Africa are considered White/Caucasian by race. Some Arab Americans have assimilated to the American way of life, are accepted by their peers as such, and feel entitled to identify themselves as white. Others argue that their experiences are closer to disadvantaged communities than privileged ones. Arab Americans are considered by many to be new to the US, yet Arab Americans have been in the US for more than 100 years. Is their status as perceived newcomers due to the fact that the majority of the Arab American population is immigrant rather than US born, or is it due to other aspects of their experiences? By analyzing Arab American socioeconomic characteristics such as income, poverty, education, and discrimination, this panel attempts to understand similarities and differences between Arab Americans and White and ethnic minority populations.

Discussants include: Louise A. Cainkar, Maro Youssef, Germine Awad, Claudia Youakim, and Nadeem Istfan. Organized by Rita Stephan

[P4058] Arabs in the U.S. Census (Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm)

      In December 2014, the Census Bureau announced its intension to test a Middle Eastern and North Africa category for inclusion in the 2020 Census. This is a vitally important measure to correct the problematic under count of the community. Federal data on Arab Americans have historically been derived from a question on ancestry in the American Community Survey. Since 1980, the Census Bureau has compiled ancestry data on Arab Americans in conjunction with demographic, social, economic, and health information. This panel aims to explore the formation and evolution of Arab classification in the Census by examining how the Census Bureau has constructed Arab Americans in different periods. It also investigates why the Census Bureau has experienced difficulties reaching and counting the Arab American population; how would a MENA ethnic category reflect the changing lives and experiences of Arabs in the United States? And, how useful is the American Community Survey (ACS) in understanding the demographic and socio-economic characteristics, especially health, educational and economic disparities of Arab Americans?

▪   Socioeconomic Variation Among Arab Immigrants in the United States: Does gender matter? by Ajrouch, Kristine

▪   Functional Limitations among US – and Foreign-Born Arab Americans: Results from the 2009 – 2013 American Community Survey by Dallo, Florence

▪   Ancestry, Ethnicity and Language: Mapping the U.S. Census Bureau’s classifications of Middle Eastern Americans since 1910 by Kayyali, Randa

▪   The development and classification of the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) category for the 2015 National Content Test by Marks, Rachel; Ramirez, Roberto

Arab Americans as Hard-to-Reach and Hard-to-Count Population by Stephan, Rita

  • Randa Kayyali, Chair


[P4127] Who’s Arab? Where’s America?: Interrogating “Arab American” (Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm)

      The boundaries of Arab American studies have always been fluid. As a relatively young field of inquiry, researchers and scholars from a variety of backgrounds and approaches have been welcomed into the discipline. Sometimes the scholarship has included work on communities that may be outside the purview of a strictly defined Arab America. This panel features work that interrogates both terms in the label “Arab American.” The authors on the panel ask questions such as, Should Arab American studies include research on Arabic-speaking communities that may not self-identify as Arab or Arab American? Should the field welcome work located in the Americas, but not necessarily in the United States? Should the field include scholarship that situates Arab Americans within broad coalitions such as MENA and AMEMSA? The four papers on this panel feature diverse approaches to the topic. Using a historical lens, one paper argues for geographic inclusion of Arabs across the Americas. Looking closely at a social movement of Arabs in Central and South America, the author shows how activists set out to forge cultural, diplomatic, and economic bonds between the Arab world and the Americas as well as to build a “pan-American” alliance among themselves across the hemisphere. Another paper takes a more contemporary ethnographic approach, embarking on a discursive analysis of three generations of Lebanese in the U.S., investigating the tensions in self-identification (such as Arab vs. Lebanese). The remaining two papers center their investigations on aesthetic productions by Arabs, Arab Americans, Muslims, and Muslim Americans. One of the papers argues that by expansively considering the role Arab American writers and artists play in global literary communities, we can underscore connections between Arab American writers and diasporic communities transnationally as well as with diverse minority communities domestically. The authors of the final paper seek to broaden Arab American scholarly inquiry to reflect the role that critical South Asian diasporic voices have in speaking to issues of concern to the Arab American community. The authors accomplish this through an analysis of a recent film by a U.S.-educated British Pakistani writer. Collectively, the papers on this panel interrogate the boundaries of scholarship on Arab Americans, opening up new spaces of inclusivity across geographic, linguistic, religious, and ethnic lines.

▪   Lebanese-American in the South: Transition from Diasporic to Hyphenated Identity by Eads, Amanda

▪   Reading Identity in Arab American Writing by Haque, Danielle

▪   Redrawing Area and Ethnic Studies: Arab América Across and Beyond the Hemisphere by Karam, John Tofik


[S4289] Professional Development Workshop: Proposal Writing and Research Design: How To Fund Your Ideas (Sunday, 11/22/15 11:00am)

      Those embarking on academic careers must master the art of writing proposals for research funding. Whether you are conducting research for a dissertation or book or seeking support for a special project-locating and securing funding is critical. This workshop will provide expert guidelines on how to write compelling proposals from the initial phrasing of the research question, step by step, to the research outcomes, significance, dissemination, and public outreach. It will also address such issues as identifying and working with funding agencies, effectively communicating research methodology and goals, preparing budgets, and planning for the dissemination of results. The workshop will be led by Suad Joseph, Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies, University of California at Davis. She has taught proposal writing and lead workshops for students, faculty, administrators, and NGO practitioners for over 30 years. Information about proposal writing may be found on Dr. Joseph’s website at http://sjoseph.ucdavis.edu/Faculty_Workshop/index.htm. Please sign up for the workshop in advance by sending an email message to Mark Lowder at mark@mesana.org. Before the workshop, please browse Professor Joseph’s website and read the document, “Components of a social science and humanities research proposal.” Co-Sponsored by the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures Outreach Project, the Arab American Studies Association, the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies, and the Association for Middle East Anthropology.