Project

The project strives to provide Americans of Arab and Muslim descent the opportunity to preserve, share, and document their life story in their own words.  The ultimate goal of this project is to reinforce and strengthen the community’s cultural understanding of this particular population.  It is hoped, through a better understanding, that a greater sense of connection will be created between the community and its immigrant population.

Members of AMWRRI are in the process of collecting, preserving, and making available the personal audio accounts of Arab and Muslim Americans to help educate various communities about immigrants’ experiences in their adopted country.

Along with collecting firsthand accounts, the project attempts when feasible to gather recorded immigrant memoirs, original photographs, letters, diaries, maps, and any other pertinent documents that highlight the experiences of immigrants from a personal and community wide perspective.

AMWRRI Project for 2018-2022:

The Cultural Stigma of Disabilities among Muslim Population

AMWRRI, a group of Marquette University faculty and student researchers, and a number of Milwaukee community institutions are teaming together to understand the stigmatizing effects of disabilities and to promote positive change among Muslim communities.

The Project is a combination of face-to-face interviews with online information exchange and dissemination. Our main goals are to: 1) empower Milwaukee’s disabled members and their families who are in Muslim communities, especially Muslim women, to share their stories, lead a public reflection on disability, establish support networks, and seek help through a digital archive and face-to-face meetings; and 2) spur a conversation about disability among community members, researchers, and health professionals. The community digital archive—the centerpiece of our plan—is a website that will provide a safe space for different stakeholders to interact, and a data source for researchers and health professionals. It consists of three parts: 1) sharing: a community-generated, project team-led collection of testimonies; 2) connecting: a discussion board connecting disabled women or families who have a disabled member to each other and to available resources; and 3) reflecting: a space for blogs, modeling a multi-disciplinary reflection on cultural constructions of disability and Islam. Opportunities for information gathering and exchange of ideas, information and reflection will be organized off-line through focus groups, discussions, workshops, and newsletters for community members and professionals. Our team includes experts in relevant disciplines who are members of the target communities, which will ensure our effective leadership of this project.

Some initial questions the project will explore:

  1. What are the reasons for the stigma surrounding mental and physical disabilities? Are these rooted in the culture and/or based on misinterpretation or religious texts? What are some of these misconceptions?
  2. Which kind of disabilities do people experience as the most stigmatizing? Why?
  3. Do the Muslim communities have means to manage mental and physical disabilities? If not, how should they acquire these?
  4. Why is disability an instant disqualifier from participation in standardized social performance?
  5. How should community members, organizations, and healthcare professionals work together to normalize and increase the participation of disabled members in communities’ social activities?

If you would like to participate and contribute to this project and give your account as a Muslim member who has a disability or a family member with disability, please contact us with your contact information at eothman@amwrri.org or enaya.othman@mu.edu