Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Elizabeth Aranda


Assimilation, Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, Gender, Immigration, Islamophobia


In this thesis, I explore the perceived character of Islamophobia in American society, and how Islamophobia is embedded in the everyday lived experiences and identity negotiations of a sample of Middle Eastern immigrants, ten years post-9/11. Data consist of 13 qualitative interviews with first-generation Middle Eastern immigrants, including Muslims, Christians, and those who claim no religion. Findings suggest that perceived discrimination and cultural hostility vary across both gender and religion. Women who cover with the hijab perceive far more discrimination and humiliating experiences than men or women who do not cover in the sample. Iranians also receive extremely poor treatment, especially from border patrol agents in airports, regardless of religion. Overarching themes of identity negotiation include: (1) a Muslim First identity; (2) the individualizing of the Muslim faith through modified religious practices and diverse social networks; and (3) negotiating the Iranian vs. Persian identity. I conclude that while overall trends of discrimination are perceived to be receding from their peaks in the 9/11 backlash; there is a real possibility for sustained hostility towards those who are visibly Muslim, particularly for women, which has implications for trends in identity negotiation.