Book Review: All American Yemeni Girls: Being Muslim in a Public School

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Halstead, J. Mark (2006)

Drawing on 26 months of fieldwork in a Yemeni community in south-eastern Michigan, Loukia K. Sarroub tells the story of six Yemeni–American girls as they try to pick a pathway between the conflicting cultural values of home and school. The six ijbt, as she calls them, are the daughters of immigrants who came to the US in the 1970s but who have retained a high level of cultural attachment to their parents’ country of origin. They are all teenagers, all students at public schools, all subject to the complex marginalization processes of religion, ethnicity, gender, family, culture, nationality, schooling and socio-economic status, and yet all are presented as negotiating their home and school identities in unique and creative ways. Sarroub is aware of many of the pressures under which the girls live their lives—pressures to be good students so that the option to go to college and become a nurse or teacher remains a possibility; to be obedient daughters who do the housework and will marry husbands of their fathers’ choosing; to be faithful Muslims who live out the precepts of the Qurn; and to uphold the honour of the family through their modest behaviour. The girls themselves are depicted as fluctuating between optimism and desperation, often questioning whether they can live up to any of the expectations placed upon them.
  • References (1)

    All American Yemeni Girls: Being Muslim in a Public School By LOUKIA K. SARROUB (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005). 158 pp. Price PB £12.50. ISBN 0-8122-1894-9.

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