Medina by the Bay: the Ethics of Knowledge, Difference, and Survival in Bay Area Islam
Maryam Kashani

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Primary Discipline

Islam is often discussed as something that arrives in (and threatens) the United States from a historic and geographic elsewhere. This project examines Muslim histories from the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and 1970s counterculture, to the more recent establishment of a Muslim liberal arts college, schools, and non-profits, to demonstrate how the San Francisco Bay Area is not only a destination, but a source for Islamic knowledge and Muslim ways of being. Based on eight years of ethnographic fieldwork and filmmaking in multiracial and multiethnic Muslim communities, this book project and related website consider how Muslims mobilize Islam as an ethical and epistemic framework to negotiate issues of difference, social justice, and survival. This project demonstrates how socioeconomic forces and geopolitical agendas impact which Muslim educational institutions and forms of Muslim life flourish and which are subject to precarity. This study argues for a deeper consideration of local histories, politics, and geographies in community-driven education projects while also demonstrating how schools and informal learning environments are related structurally ââ?¬â?? through their proximities, the transit of people within them, and state interventions that shape efforts for autonomy, assimilation, authority, and survival.
About Maryam Kashani
Maryam Kashani is an Assistant Professor in Gender and Women?s Studies and Asian American Studies and a 2019-21 Faculty Fellow of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. A filmmaker and anthropologist, her research is concerned with the lived experience of Muslims in the United States. Her book project Medina by the Bay is based on ethnographic research and filmmaking conducted amongst Muslim communities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and at a Muslim liberal arts college in Berkeley, California. Her films and video installations have been shown at film festivals, universities, and museums internationally and include things lovely and dangerous still (2003), Best in the West (2006), and Signs of Remarkable History (2016). Her recent publications include ?Habib in the Hood: Mobilizing History and Prayer towards an Anti-Racist Islam? in Amerasia (2018) and ?The Audience Is Present: Invocations of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz by Muslims in the United States? in With Stones in Our Hands: Reflections on Racism, Muslims, and U.S. Empire, edited by Sohail Daulatzai and Junaid Rana (University of Minnesota Press, 2018).

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