Being Muslim and American: Turkish-American children negotiating their religious identities in school settings

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Religious diversity in schools is a growing interest among educational researchers. This qualitative case study examines how 15 Turkish-Muslim children in elementary and middle school negotiated their religious identities as they responded to various experiences in American schools and in their communities. Unlike some earlier studies that highlighted cultural conflict as a theme in Muslim adolescents’ relationship with schools in the United States, this study is based on a framework that illustrates the voices and agency of young children, and utilizes data from interviews, participant observations and cultural artifacts. Findings demonstrate the ways parents and children mediated challenges their religious identity posed by choosing strategies that made their religious identities invisible, or by finding innovative ways to negotiate their identity and religious practices. Children who participated in the study did not view American identities in conflict with their Muslim identities. Learning about the experiences of immigrant parents and children may provide teachers with insight for creating educational experiences that are responsive to the needs of these communities. This knowledge base can also assist teachers in better responding to biases about Muslims, which might negatively influence children’s identity construction and academic and social achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-250
Number of pages26
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education


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