I am currently working on a qualitative project about identity construction among Muslim Americans. The project actually has two major components that I am bringing together in a book length manuscript. One component analyzes newspaper stories about Muslim Americans.
The objective here is to capture how media representations have constructed and assigned meaning to Muslim American identity. This work looks at media discourses around assimilation, religious minority identity, and hijab (i.e., the scarves worn by Muslim women) both before and after 9/11. It speaks specifically to external constructions of the collective identity Muslim American.
The second component of my research is based on qualitative interviewing, focus groups, and ethnographic observations with first and second generation immigrant Muslim Americans (a small number of focus groups were conducted with second generation African American Muslims [i.e., raised by Muslim converts], also). This data specifically addresses how Muslim Americans understand and negotiate their collective identities: religious, ethnic, race, and nationality.
This part of the project focuses on internal identity construction or how Muslim Americans assign meanings to their identities. I am bringing both sides of this research together as a book that analyzes Muslim American identity construction as a social product that is created in the media and among Muslims themselves. I hope that my work will add to our understanding of the processes that construct and assignment meanings to collective identities, and how those meanings are negotiated. Moreover, I hope that it will shed light on how race, ethnic and, in this case, religious inequalities are negotiated.
Byng, M. 2013. "You Can't Get There from Here: A Social Process Theory of Racism and Race." Critical Sociology.
Byng, M. 2008. "Complex Inequalities: The Case of Muslim Americans After 9/11" American Behavioral Scientist 2008; 51; 659
Byng, M. 2007. "Disrupted Assimilation:Muslim Americans and the War on Terror News Frame." Journal of Social and Ecological Boundaries. Fall 2007/Winter 2008 (3.1) 227-252
Byng, M. 1998. "Mediating Discrimination: Resisting Oppression among African-American Muslim Women." Social Problems, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), pp. 473-487