The Arab and Muslim Women’s Research and Resource Institute (AMWRRI) continues to carry out its mission of documenting and sharing the experiences and histories of Arab and Muslim communities in the Greater Milwaukee area. Through oral interviews, we are creating an oral archive where women and men share their stories of immigration, integration and identity. A particular focus this year is connecting identity to ways of cultural dress. Our interviewers and researchers listen to the narrators, who are mostly women, speaking on the significance of cultural/religious clothing to them and their family members. As women uncover the meaning of dress to them, we, as the general public, can gain better insight and understanding of the complexity of women’s identities. The narrations help us appreciate diversity and accept difference without being judgmental and without surrendering to stereotypes directed towards Muslim women’s appearance and dress.
On February 13, 2013 AMWRRI held a public event at the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee. Dr. Enaya Othman, founder and president of AMWRRI, explained the organization’s mission and also introduced the event, “Cultural Dress and Identity Narratives among Arab and Muslim Women Immigrants in Greater Milwaukee.” She gave a brief lecture on the importance of the oral history project. Because this year’s oral history project is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, we were delighted that Diane Reinhard, the Chair of the Wisconsin Humanities Council , was present and extended a warm welcome to all who attended. Dr. Jeana Abromeit, an AMWRRI board member, expressed her appreciation for the support we’ve received from the WHC, welcomed the event’s participants (which was a robust 65-70 people), and explained how to become involved with AMWRRI. A highlight of the evening was the presentations by the following oral researchers who conducted in-depth interviews with first- and second-generation immigrants: Alexis Sammarco, Rawan Atari, Samantha Pryor, Affnan Musatief
We concluded the evening with a reception and the opportunity for people to get to know each other.