Negotiating Muslim Womanhood: The Adaptation Strategies of International Students at Two American Public Colleges
Degree Granting Department
Elizabeth Aranda, Ph.D.
Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D.
James C. Cavendish, Ph.D.
Immigration, International Students, Muslim Women, Race, Religion, Sociology of Emotions
From a Western perspective, North Americans and Western Europeans perceive Muslim women as being oppressed (Andrea 2009; Lutz 1997, 96; Ozyurt 2013). Led by this assumption, some view studying abroad as an international student as an experience that allows Muslim women the opportunity to "escape" this supposed oppression and to know "freedom" in the U.S. However, Muslim women's experiences are more dynamic and complex than this dualism suggests. In this thesis, I explore adaptation strategies of Muslim women international students, and how gender, race, and religion affect their experiences while abroad. Furthermore, I explore the women's use of emotion management as a means of navigating their experiences during their study abroad. Data consist of qualitative interviews with 11 Muslim women students from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Nigeria, Morocco, Oman, The Gambia, Kuwait, and India. Findings in this study are consistent with previous research of international students' challenges; Muslim women face difficulties with English language proficiency, new social network creation, transition to a student role, and management of finances during their study abroad. In addition, Muslim women international students actively synthesize traditional gender norms from their countries with new identity formations but also "police" others to ensure that they abide by traditional gender expectations. The Muslim women in this study learn and apply American racial schemas (Roth 2012) within a context of constructing the U.S. as a racial and religious paradise. Paradoxically, these women still feel the need to actively debunk negative stereotypes of Muslim communities. Yet, they still maintain connected with their home countries through daily religious involvement such as prayer and wearing the hijab.
Scholar Commons Citation
Gregory, Amber Michelle, "Negotiating Muslim Womanhood: The Adaptation Strategies of International Students at Two American Public Colleges" (2014). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.