GSE Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

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Publication Source

Race Ethnicity and Education





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Drawing on ethnographic data, this article examines the complex terrain that working-class Pakistani-American youth must negotiate in their daily lives. Specifically, the article illustrates how particular views of Islam and Americanization manifest in particular sites and within educational discourses, and the resulting dissonance that youth experience. On the one hand, schools view Islam as oppressive, problematic and a hindrance to the youths’ academic and professional success. On the other hand, families present Islam as a type of cultural capital that can guide youth and help them navigate their lives by being a ‘good Muslim.’ The result of these fossilized views of culture and nationality is the production of an ‘imagined nostalgia’: One group longs for a world where assimilation into the dominant group is expected and accepted; the other longs for the homeland, which they try to recreate in their new home. Thus, in their own ways, both schools and communities send the message that being Muslim and being American is not compatible. Consequently, rather than view being Muslim and American in an additive way, youth believe that they can only be one or the other, which often translates into placing themselves outside the realm of American cultural citizenship.

Copyright/Permission Statement

The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Race Ethnicity and Education 2015


Muslim, youth, immigrants, 9/11, Pakistani-Americans, cultural citizenship



Date Posted: 05 June 2015

This document has been peer reviewed.