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Michigan State University

Arab American Studies Research Guide: Find Books / Arab Americans in Michigan

General Tips and Advice

  • Check the MSU Online Catalog for books, videos, and more.  Note that the MSU Online Catalog is a union catalog which includes the holdings of the Library of Michigan, the MSU College of Law Library, and other branches on our own campus.

  • Do a wider search using MelCat (a network of participating Michigan libraries) or WorldCat (searches thousands of libraries). You can request non-MSU Library materials through interlibrary loan. NOTE: Not all materials listed in MelCat or WorldCat can be borrowed through interlibrary loan, but many can.

  • Don't forget to use the bibliographies in reference works, books, and articles to identify other resources on your topic.

    Arab Americans in Metro Detroit

    Eva Hetty, a Lebanese immigrant, in 1929. Rather than working at home or at a family-owned store like most of the Arab women immigrants, Hetty supported her family as an auto-worker. (Image from “Arab Americans in Metro Detroit: A Pictorial History”)

    A Yemeni immigrant in Dearborn, outside a Ford plant c. 1950s. Many immigrants came to the Dearborn area, which still has a very concentrated Arab population today.

    Background Info

    Arab Americans are among the many ethnic groups that make up the population of the United States.  Arab Americans are found in almost every state, although they tend to cluster in a few major cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.  Some of these cities have neighborhoods with large concentrations of Arab Americans and have Arabic restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses.  The largest such Arab American neighborhood is found in Dearborn, Michigan.

    Today Arab Americans are an extremely diverse group of people.  Despite their diversity, Arab Americans have much in common.  They feel bound by a shared history, values and culture.  They trace their roots to the same region of the world.  They speak Arabic, or their parents and grandparents did.  Like other ethnic groups, Arab Americans try to preserve their ethnic identity and culture.

    Even though many Arab Americans share a geographic origin, cultural, religious and language heritage, many more have never lived outside of the United States and practice a diversity of religions.

    When searching the MSU Library online catalog or other databases such as WorldCat, one can always try the phrase Arab American or the Library of Congress subject heading Arab Americans. If you want to be more precise, you can try various LC subject headings such as:

    • Armenian Americans
    • Egyptian Americans
    • Iranian Americans
    • Iraqi Americans
    • Kuwaiti Americans
    • Lebanese Americans
    • Morocco Americans
    • Palestinian Americans
    • Somali Americans
    • Syrian Americans
    • Turkish Americans

    or variations with geographic identifiers such as: Lebanese--United States, Arab Americans--United States.

    Arab Americans In Michigan

    Arab Americans in Detroit (YouTube).  Courtesy of WXYZ-TV Detroit (Channel 7)

    Arab Americans in Metro Detroit : A Pictorial History / Anan Ameri ; Yvonne Lockwood.  Chicago, IL : Arcadia Pub., c2001.  128pp.  Main Library E184.A65 A44 2001  : Arab Americans have been an integral part of Detroit's history since the 1880s. Early Arab immigrants worked as peddlers, grocers, and unskilled laborers, first settling downtown and later on the east side of Detroit. Their numbers increased after the First World War. They were attracted to the area by the booming automobile industry, and Ford's $5 for an 8-hour work day. This visual journey explores the history of four generations of Arab Americans in metro Detroit. It takes us to the days that preceded the automobile to modern 21st-century Arab America. Through more than 180 images, this book portrays the challenges and triumphs of Arabs as they preserve their families, and build churches, mosques, restaurants, businesses, and institutions, thus contributing to Detroit's efforts in regaining its position as a world class city.

    Arab Americans in Michigan / Rosina J. Hassoun. East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, 2005.  84pp.  Main Library and Faculty Collection F575.A65 H37 2005 : The state of Michigan hosts one of the largest and most diverse Arab American populations in the United States. As the third largest ethnic population in the state, Arab Americans are an economically important and politically influential group. It also reflects the diversity of national origins, religions, education levels, socioeconomic levels, and degrees of acculturation. Despite their considerable presence, Arab Americans have always been a misunderstood ethnic population in Michigan, even before September 11, 2001 imposed a cloud of suspicion, fear, and uncertainty over their ethnic enclaves and the larger community. In Arab Americans in Michigan Rosina J. Hassoun outlines the origins, culture, religions, and values of a people whose influence has often exceeded their visibility in the state.

    Arab Detroit 9/11 : Life in the Terror Decade / edited by Nabeel Abraham, Sally Howell, and Andrew Shryock.  Detroit : Wayne State University Press, c2011.  413pp.  Main Library F575.A65 A73 2011 : Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Detroit s large and nationally prominent Arab and Muslim communities have faced heightened prejudice, government surveillance, and political scapegoating, yet they have also enjoyed unexpected gains in economic, political, and cultural influence. Museums, festivals, and cultural events flourish alongside the construction of new mosques and churches, and more Arabs are being elected and appointed to public office. Detroit s Arab population is growing even as the city s non-Arab sectors, and the state of Michigan as a whole, have steadily lost population. In Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade, a follow-up to their volume Arab Detroit: From Margin to Mainstream (Wayne State University Press, 2000), editors Nabeel Abraham, Sally Howell, and Andrew Shryock present accounts of how life in post-9/11 Detroit has changed over the last ten years....Abraham, Howell, and Shryock have assembled a diverse group of contributors whose essays range from the scholarly to the artistic and include voices that are Palestinian, Iraqi, Yemeni, and Lebanese; Muslim and Christian; American born and immigrant. The book is divided into six sections and begins with wide-angle views of Arab Detroit, looking first at how the community fits within greater Detroit as a whole, then presenting closer portraits of Arab Detroit s key ethnonational and religious subgroups. More personal, everyday accounts of life in the Terror Decade follow as focus shifts to practical matters such as family life, neighborhood interactions, going to school, traveling domestically, and visiting home countries. Finally, contributors consider the interface between Arab Detroit and the larger society, how this relationship is maintained, how the War on Terror has distorted it, and what lessons might be drawn about citizenship, inclusion, and exclusion by situating Arab Detroit in broader and deeper historical contexts....In Detroit, new realities of political marginalization and empowerment are evolving side by side. As they explore the complex demands of life in the Terror Decade, the contributors to this volume create vivid portraits of a community that has fought back successfully against attempts to deny its national identity and diminish its civil rights. Readers interested in Arab studies, Detroit culture and history, transnational politics, and the changing dynamics of race and ethnicity in America will enjoy the personal reflection and analytical insight of Arab Detroit 9/11.

    Arab Detroit : From Margin to Mainstream / edited by Nabeel Abraham and Andrew Shryock. Detroit : Wayne State University Press, c2000.  629pp.  Main Library F574.D49 A653 2000 : Within Detroit, the Arab community numbers over 200,000 individuals who trace their heritage to Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, and Iraq--North America's largest and most concentrated Arab community. Its members represent a diverse population that ranges from new immigrants ("boaters" or "just off the boat" people who consider themselves marginalized) to mainstream fifth generation community leaders whose ancestors migrated to the city a century ago. Many Arabs were attracted to Detroit by employment opportunities in the automobile industry. This text, edited by anthropologists, is a community ethnography that includes essays, poetry, and memoirs grouped into sections on lifeways and community structure, work, religion, politics, life histories, and ethnic futures. Arab identity is often defined in terms of ideal oppositions such as immigrant, ethnic, and other aspects of national, religious, and village or tribal heritage. Traditional identity markers such as church and mosque groups have not proven effective in fostering adaptation to American society; rather, it is as assimilating Arab Americans that community members have gained acceptance and participation in life outside their ethnic enclaves. Includes photographs Recommended for all libraries with collections on ethnicity, cultural, and urban studies.

    Chaldeans in Michigan / Mary C. Sengstock.  East Lansing, Mich. : Michigan State University Press, c2005.  112pp.  Main Library F575.C36 S46 2005

    Citizenship and Crisis : Arab Detroit After 9/11 / Detroit Arab American Study Team.  New York : Russell Sage Foundation, c2009.  299pp.    Main Library  F574.D49 A6538 2009  : Is citizenship simply a legal status or does it describe a sense of belonging to a national community? For Arab Americans, these questions took on new urgency after 9/11, as the cultural prejudices that have often marginalized their community came to a head. Citizenship and Crisis reveals that, despite an ever-shifting definition of citizenship and the ease with which it can be questioned in times of national crisis, the Arab communities of metropolitan Detroit continue to thrive. A groundbreaking study of social life, religious practice, cultural values, and political views among Detroit Arabs after 9/11, Citizenship and Crisis argues that contemporary Arab American citizenship and identity have been shaped by the chronic tension between social inclusion and exclusion that has been central to this population's experience in America....According to the landmark Detroit Arab American Study, which surveyed more than 1,000 Arab Americans and is the focus of this book, Arabs express pride in being American at rates higher than the general population. In nine wide-ranging essays, the authors of Citizenship and Crisis argue that the 9/11 backlash did not substantially transform the Arab community in Detroit, nor did it alter the identities that prevail there. The city's Arabs are now receiving more mainstream institutional, educational, and political support than ever before, but they remain a constituency defined as essentially foreign. The authors explore the role of religion in cultural integration and identity formation, showing that Arab Muslims feel more alienated from the mainstream than Arab Christians do. Arab Americans adhere more strongly to traditional values than do other Detroit residents, regardless of religion. Active participants in the religious and cultural life of the Arab American community attain higher levels of education and income, yet assimilation to the American mainstream remains important for achieving enduring social and political gains. The contradictions and dangers of being Arab and American are keenly felt in Detroit, but even when Arab Americans oppose U.S. policies, they express more confidence in U.S. institutions than do non-Arabs in the general population....The Arabs of greater Detroit, whether native-born, naturalized, or permanent residents, are part of a political and historical landscape that limits how, when, and to what extent they can call themselves American. When analyzed against this complex backdrop, the results of The Detroit Arab American Study demonstrate that the pervasive notion in American society that Arabs are not like "us" is simply inaccurate. Citizenship and Crisis makes a rigorous and impassioned argument for putting to rest this exhausted cultural and political stereotype.

    A sociological study of the Syrian population of Lansing, Michigan / by Yussef Waffa.  East Lansing, Michigan : Thesis M.A. Michigan State College. Department of Sociology 1928..  134 leaves.   Available online Includes photographs of neighborhood stores located around Lansing.

    Telling our story : the Arab American National MuseumDearborn, Michigan : Arab American National Museum, c2007. 192pp.  Main Library E184.A65 T45 2007

    For more possibilities, check the Arab American Bibliography offered by the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

    Photo of a Syrian immigrant named Abraham Swide c. 1915. Swide was a dry goods peddler, a fairly common occupation for immigrants, many of who aspired to one day establish their own stores. (Image from “Arab Americans in Metro Detroit: A Pictorial History”)

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