Schuyler W. Henderson, M.D. Assistant Editor
Who Am I? Ethnic Identity Formation of Arab Muslim Children in Contemporary U.S. Society PIA REBELLO BRITTO, PH.D.
Identity formation is a lifelong developmental process. It is multidimensional, consisting of diverse aspects such as sex, occupation, education, cultural background, family structure, and race and ultimately emerges from an interaction between the self and the context.1,2 Ethnic identity formation, a process of developing an understanding of one`s origins with respect to a particular reference group, begins in childhood3,4 and often consolidates in adolescence.2 Ethnic identity is a central aspect of social development for most non-European immigrants5,6 and has been linked to psychological adjustment and the overall well-being of immigrant children and adolescents.7 The ecological context (i.e., the local social, political, and cultural environments) is a key influence on ethnic identity,8 and discord among these environments may be a conflictual milieu for the formation of ethnic identity. Growing up Muslim and Arab in the United States in this postYSeptember 11, 2001 era is complex, not just with respect to the different aspects of identity,9 but also Accepted March 27, 2008. This article was reviewed under and accepted by Deputy Editor Ellen Leibenluft, M.D. In Context is a venue for scholarly contributions from experts on scientific, social, political, and cultural issues pertinent to children`s mental health. In Context presents topics that do not immediately fall under the purview of scientific research of clinical practice but that nevertheless affect the lives and mental health of children. Its goal is to education clinicians and researchers, to encourage discussion, and to foster interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Britto is with the Child Study Center, Yale University. The author thanks the Russell Sage Foundation for its financial support and the BMan Ana^ research team Mary Schwab-Stone, N. Shemrah Fallon, Amina el-Annan, and Mona Amer for their participation in the study of Arab Muslim children. Portions of this article are adapted from Britto PR, Amer M. An exploration of cultural identity patterns and the family context among Arab Muslim young adults in America. Appl Dev Sci. 2007;11:137Y150. Correspondence to Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, Yale Child Study Center, 230 South Frontage Road, New Haven, CT 06520; e-mail: email@example.com. 0890-8567/08/4708-0853Ó2008 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e3181799fa6
because of the current political and social context, which tends to promote wariness toward Arab Muslims in the Western world.10 Based on an analysis of the interaction between the ecological context and the development of identity, it has been hypothesized that the psychological well-being of Arab Muslim children and adolescents is potentially at risk.11 As Arab Muslim children develop their ethnic identity, they are attempting to make sense of their own place within these already complex social constructs, but unfortunately we lack a comprehensive body of knowledge and a sufficient understanding of the processes and issues that these children face during the course of identity formation. The aim of this article is to introduce the nascent, albeit fascinating, body of multidisciplinary research examining issues linked with ethnic identity development of Arab Muslim children and to recommend areas of research to address the existing gaps, with the goal of understanding and promoting the healthy development of the next generation of Arab Muslim children growing up in the United States. By way of introduction, the first section of the article provides a brief historical overview of Arab Muslim immigration to the United States, but does not include a discussion of the role of Islam in other cultures, such as the African American or other Asian immigrant cultures. There may be areas...
References: 1. Erikson E. Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Norton; 1950. 2. Erikson E. Youth and Crisis. New York: W.W. Norton; 1968. 3. Bennett M, Sani F. The Development of the Social Self. New York: Psychology Press; 2004. 4. Ruble DN, Alvarez J, Bachman M, et al. The development of a sense of Bwe^: the emergence and implications of children`s collective identity. In: Bennett M, Sani F , eds. The Development of the Social Self. New York: Psychology Press; 2004:29Y76. 5. Phinney J. Ethnic identity and acculturation. In: Chun K, Ball P, Marin G, eds. Acculturation: Advances in Theory, Measurement, and Applied Research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2003: 63Y81. 6. Portes A, Rumbaut RG. Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation. Berkeley: University of California Press; 2001. 7. Fuligni AJ. The adjustment of children from immigrant families. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 1998;7:99Y103. 8. Verkuyten M. Ethnic identity and social context. In: Bennett M, Sani F, eds. The Development of the Social Self. New York: Psychology Press; 2004:187Y216. 9. Britto PR, Amer M. An exploration of cultural identity patterns and the family context among Arab Muslim young adults in America. Appl Dev Sci. 2007;11:137Y150. 10. Said EW. From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map. New York: Pantheon; 2004. 11. Balsano A, Sirin S. Muslim youth in the west: collateral damage we cannot afford to disregard. Appl Dev Sci. 2007;11:178Y183. 12. Haddad YY. Maintaining the faith of the fathers: dilemmas of religious identity in the Christian and Muslim Arab-American communities. In: McCarus E, ed. The Development of Arab-American Identity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 1994:61Y83. 13. Haddad YY, Smith J. Islamic values among American Muslims. In: Aswad BC, Bilge B, eds. Family and Gender Among American Muslims. Philadelphia: Temple University Press; 1996:19Y40. 14. Abu-Laban B, Suleiman MW, eds. Arab Americans: Continuity and Change. Belmont, MA: Association of Arab-American University Graduates; 1989. 15. McCarus E, ed. The Development of Arab-American Identity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 1994. 16. Naff A. The early Arab immigrant experience. In: McCarus E, ed. The Development of Arab-American Identity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 1994:23Y36. 17. Arab American Institute Foundation. Ancestry of Arab Americans by primary identification/religious affiliations of Arab Americans. http:// www.aaiusa.org/page/file/b8bad613905570ea97Ymghwmvb2d.pdf/ancestry. pdf . Accessed October 1, 2006. 18. Brittingham A, de la Cruz GP. We the people of Arab Ancestry in the 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37.
United States (Census 2000 brief no. C2KBRY23). Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005. Ewing KP. Being and Belonging: Muslims in the United States Since 9/11. New York: Russell Sage Foundation; 2008. Barrett DB, Johnson TM. Annual statistical table on global mission. Int Bull Missionary Res. 1999;23:24Y25 Masci D. An Uncertain Road: Muslims and the Future of Europe. Washington, DC: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; 2005. Sirin S, Balsano A. Pathways to identity and positive development for Muslim youth in the West. Appl Dev Sci. 2007;11:109Y111. Bronfrenbrenner U. The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1979. Ahmad I, Szpara MY. Muslim children in urban America: The New York City school experience. J Muslim Minor Aff. 2003;23:295Y301. Ayish N. Stereotypes and Arab American Muslim High School Students: A Misunderstood Group. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 64(5-A), 1523, 2003. Ibish H. Report on hate crimes and discrimination against Arab Americans: the post September 11 backlash. Washington, DC: American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee; 2003. Zine J. Unveiled sentiments: gendered Islamophobia and experiences of veiling among Muslim girls in Canadian Islamic schools. Equity Excell Educ. 2006;39:239Y252. Douglas SL, Dunn RE. Interpreting Islam in American schools. Ann AAPSS. 2003;588:52Y72. Sarroub L. All America Yemeni Girls. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2005. Levitt P, Waters MC, eds. The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation; 2003. Waters MC. Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1990. Rumbaut RG. The crucible within: ethnic identity, self-esteem, and segmented assimilation among children of immigrants. Int Migr Rev. 1994;28:748Y794. Clark KB, Clark MP. Racial identification and preference in Negro children. In: Newcombe TM, Hartley L, eds. Readings in Social Psychology. New York: Holt; 1947:169Y178. Spencer MB, Noll E, Stoltzfus J, et al. Identity and school adjustment: revisiting the Bacting white^ assumption. Educ Psychol. 2001;36: 21Y30. Phinney J, Alipuria L . At the interface of culture: multiethnic/multiracial high school and college students. J Soc Psychol. 1996;136:139Y158. Suleiman MW. Arab-Americans and the political process. In: McCarus E, ed. The Development of Arab-American Identity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 1994:37Y60. Ajrouch KJ. Gender, race, and symbolic boundaries: contested spaces of identity among Arab American adolescents. Soc Perspect. 2004;47: 371Y391.
J. AM . ACAD. CHILD ADOLESC. PSYCH IAT RY, 47:8, AUGUST 2008
Copyright @ 2008 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document