An Um Kulthumist Lens: An Examination of Arab American Muslim Women and the Lived Experience of Higher Education

Reima Y Shakeir, University of Pennsylvania


Over 3,500,000 million Arab Americans live in the United States, more than half of whom are women. Due to a steady flow of immigration, demographers predict that Arab Americans will represent "America's Next Top Minority" (Ta, 2007, p. 155). The study of minorities in higher education collectively is a recent endeavor with the exception of established minority groups that have a longer history in the United States. As a result, little is known about Arab American Muslim women. This study sheds light on this population by exploring the lived experiences of Arab American Muslim women in U.S. universities to understand its affective and performative aspects-and in what ways and how do they respond. The study also explores how higher educational institutions respond to Arab American Muslim women's experiences in these spaces and how they do or do not create a more engaging, equitable experience for them? The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine Arab American Muslim women's lived experiences in U.S. higher education institutions. The study examined how they experience and respond to and in these spaces-that is, it focused on the affective and performative dimensions of their experiences. The study employed a qualitative decolonizing phenomenological approach with a post-colonial intersectional feminist framework in which the data were gathered through interviews and focus groups with 40 Arab American Muslim women who had attended or were attending higher education institutions in the United States. The findings from this study indicated that Arab American Muslim women continue to navigate many obstacles in higher education institutions and that institutions are not responding to their difficulties.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Shakeir, Reima Y, "An Um Kulthumist Lens: An Examination of Arab American Muslim Women and the Lived Experience of Higher Education" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI13899572.