Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Tricia Redeker Hepner

Committee Members

Gregory Button, Rosalind Hackett

Abstract

Muslims of Middle Eastern and Turkish origin, whether longtime immigrants, recent refugees, or students living in America temporarily, are an important part of the changing ethnic and religious landscape in the Southeast U.S. In the aftermath of 9/11, much attention has been shifted upon Islam and the Middle East. Discrimination and a lack of mutual understanding and tolerance between the selected populations and native-born, non-Muslim Americans are persistent problems. The Knoxville Turkish Cultural Center and the Istanbul Center of Atlanta recognize and reflect the contemporary need for intercultural and interfaith awareness, education, and dialogue to promote tolerance. I argue that while these organizations serve to integrate incoming populations and encourage inter-group, inter-cultural, and inter-religious interaction, they also act as a pressure valve and site of intra-group identity formation. This case study reveals the many ways in which Muslims are contributing to American culture and society while simultaneously redefining, reconfirming and even solidifying their own cultural markers, social boundaries, beliefs, and identities through their community relations and through their involvement with KTCC and IC.

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