Professor Sylvia Chan-Malik will give a lecture based on her recently published book, Being Muslim: A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam, discussing the ways U.S. Muslim women’s identities are expressions of Islam simultaneously as Black protest religion, desired for gendered agency, and universal faith tradition. Drawing on archival images, cultural texts, popular media, and interviews, she will show how communities of American Islam became sites of safety, support, spirituality, and social activism, and how women of color were central to their formation. By accounting for American Islam’s rich histories of mobilization and community, the talk highlights the legacies of political, cultural, and spiritual resistance that Muslim women engage in the contemporary United States. Drawing from the stories she gathers in Being Muslim, Professor Chan-Malik demonstrates the diversity and similarities of Black, Arab, South Asian, Latina, and multiracial Muslim women, and how American understandings of Islam have shifted against the evolution of frameworks of U.S. empire, white nationalism, feminism, and Christian hegemony over the past century. In borrowing from the lineages of Black and women-of-color feminism, Chan-Malik offers us a new vocabulary for U.S. Muslim feminism, one that is as conscious of race, gender, sexuality, and nation, as it is region and religion.
Sylvia Chan-Malik is Associate Professor in the Departments of American and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where she directs the Social Justice Program and teaches courses on race and ethnicity in the United States, Islam in/and America, social justice movements, feminist methodologies, and multiethnic literature and culture in the U.S. She is the author of Being Muslim: A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam (NYU Press, 2018), which offers an alternative narrative of American Islam in the 20th-21st century that centers the lives, subjectivities, voice, and representations of women of color. She speaks frequently on issues of U.S. Muslim politics and culture, and her writing and commentary has appeared in venues such as The Intercept, Daily Beast, Slate News, Huffington Post, Patheos, Religion News Service, PRI, and others.