Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access


Media & Communication Studies

Faculty Mentor

Sheryl Goodman

Project Description

This paper explores the perspectives and experiences of second-generation Middle Eastern Americans in order to better understand how they navigate their dual identities. Previous research has examined the ways in which Middle Eastern Americans form their identities (Ajrouch, 1999; Ajrouch & Jamal, 2007; Mahdi, 1998; Mostofi, 2003), but most of these studies do not examine how they navigate them. Moreover, almost all of the studies were conducted more than a decade ago. Given that these different identities are often in tension during adolescence and young adulthood, when fitting in is harder due to their cultural background and upbringing, it is important to understand how such tensions are experienced and managed. For this study, in-depth interviews were conducted with eight second-generation Middle Eastern Americans. In my analysis I explored the ways the participants behaved when with “white Americans,” and how they “pick and choose” which aspects of their dual identity to highlight or suppress to avoid negative stereotyping. This study also looked at how participants deal with the struggles that arise when the expectations of Americans and people of their ethnic background are in tension. Finally, I described the various strategies they use to attend to both of their identities in ways that work for them. The goal of my study is to provide a more nuanced understanding of these experiences and enhance our understanding of the people from that region, which is particularly important in today’s political climate.


Presented during the 20th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 20, 2018 at Ursinus College.