Muslims as Moving Targets: External Scrutiny and Internal Critique in Detroit's Mosques

Date & time

Jan 23, 2012, 11:30 am-1:00 pm EST


This event is free and lunch is provided. Space is limited, please RSVP to [email protected].

Lecture by Sally Howell, Assistant Professor of History, University of Michigan-Dearborn

The FBI's use, or attempted use, of informants, agent provocateurs, and agent intimidation in Detroit's mosques is shaping the representation of Arabs, and Muslims in the city in distinctive ways. This essay will look at the dialogical processes this focus has set in motion between the city's mosques and other institutions of Muslim (self) representation and evolving structures of public scrutiny and federal power. It is in its close, working relationships with Arab/Muslim American organizations that the U.S. government reveals its most phobic assumptions about its Arab/Muslim citizens. Distrust and a desire to control permeate and direct the power of the state vis-à-vis Arab/Muslim Detroit. Yet the city's mosques are thriving. This paper explores how Detroit's mosques actively (and often effectively) resist state power by disciplining themselves, by creating a powerful and effective Muslim establishment, by building schools and seminaries, by educating the young, and by encouraging their imams and members to speak English and to speak out. It will also discuss the unacceptably high cost of failure.

Sally Howell is Assistant Professor of History and Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Her books include Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade (2011), and Citizenship and Crisis (2009). She is currently working on a new book entitled Old Islam in Detroit: Reframing Muslim American History, and is curator of the Building Islam in Detroit website. Her essays on Arab and Muslim American history and culture have appeared in Diaspora, Visual Anthropology, Anthropological Quarterly, and the UCLA Journal of Near Eastern and Islamic Law.

This event is sponsored by The Students of Color in Public Policy (SCPP) in partnership with the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.