Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michelle M. Christian

Committee Members

Manuela Ceballos, Harry F. Dahms, Asafa Jalata


In the current climate, there is a need to give particular attention to the racialization of Muslim women in order to understand their experiences. In the U.S., there are current discriminatory policies towards Muslims, such as Trump’s travel ban, increased incidents of hate against Muslims, and the spread of negative stereotypes about Muslims and Islam. In this study, I interview thirty-four Muslim female students to show the experiences of Muslim women at the intersection of multiple identities. These multiple identities: religion, gender, race, culture, citizenship status, clothing and various levels of religiosity such as wearing a headscarf, and national background shape these women’s perception of the hijab, their racial identification, and their coping strategies. The following three research questions are explored: 1) How do Muslim female students experience practices of racialization, regarding the outside and inside campus environment on the University of Tennessee campus where the majority of its enrollment is self-identified as Christian? (2) How does the intersection of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, and gender effect the identity formation of Muslim female university students in U.S.? (3) What are Muslim female students’ opinions, reactions, and coping strategies towards negative stereotypes about Muslim women and Islam in U.S.? The results demonstrate the diversity among Muslim female students in how they think and identify. Important intersecting markers such as being hijabi/non-hijabi; being a white/person of color; being an American citizen/non-American; speaking English as a native language/second language; coming from a secular country/religious country showcase differences in terms of how all women experienced racialization but in different ways. They also defined differently the meaning of the hijab and their racial identities and they selected different coping strategies to challenge the negative stereotypes of Muslims and Islam that have been on the rise in Trump’s era. The findings of this study broaden the existing literature and help future studies that do not only analyze Muslim population but also other minority groups in Western or Middle Eastern countries.

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