Over the past 10 years the Arab American/Muslim community has faced increasing hostility and isolation, and there have been few efforts to examine the impacts since 9/11. The needs for intra-community healing as well as broader community dialogue are evident because of this trend and in response, this project aims to start the healing process within the Arab American community, as well as healing the perceived divisions between Arab and non-Arab Americans. Key project strategies will address three central issues: persistent misperceptions and negative stereotyping of Arab Americans among the general American public; Arab American efforts to creatively respond to both the personal impacts and the collective backlash resulting from the attacks of September 11th; and the value of a participatory, experiential approach by museums in addressing the need for greater understanding of Arab diversity.
Working across faith-based organizations in the state of Michigan, the project will engage communities in a participatory process to document and share personal narratives and collective histories of the national Arab American community’s experience post-9/11, resulting in an exhibit, a series of public programs, educator’s workshops, community dialogues; curriculum supplements/lesson plans, and videos. By utilizing diverse media to present collected oral histories, personal narratives, artifacts and historical documents in an innovative, interactive manner, the project will help tell collective and individual stories and use those stories to spark conversation across ethnicities and religious faiths, creating an environment of healing.