Why this project?

Islamophobia has become a presence in American public life as never before. It may be difficult for those outside of Muslim communities to appreciate how, over time, experience of Islamophobia affects the way that American Muslims participate—or not—in public life in ways that others may take for granted. From September 2001 through today, American Muslims have faced incredible pressure to prove “Americanness,” making it more and more difficult to participate in public debates about the public good in free and voluntary terms. Many of us have read or heard about Islamophobic incidents. One central aim of this project is to present in visual terms how these incidents accumulate over time to create certain conditions of public life for American Muslims. 

A key premise guiding our work is that every event or incident growing out of Islamophobic attitudes—including seemingly innocuous incidents of anti-Muslim graffiti and offhand comments, vandalism, verbal and physical assault, employment and other forms of discrimination, anti-Muslim protests and public campaigns, local ordinances and state-level legislation targeting Muslim communities in some way, and political rhetoric at the local, state, and national level—creates conditions inimical to free and voluntary participation in public life. For this reason we include a significant range of incidents and events.  

Crucially, our site also includes data on American Muslim participation in public life. We have gathered information about a wide range of activities, covering a variety community outreach activities, interfaith work, political outreach, and political activities. When setting data on Islamophobia and the nature of American Muslim participation in public life side by side, as this site does, it is easy to see the significant connection between the two. Providing such an opportunity to meditate on the relationship between hate and public participation is another central aim of this project. It is here that we offer a small measure of analysis.

 

What are we (re)presenting on this site?

We are working our way back in time, beginning with the current moment and eventually ending in late 2001. Given the incredible rise in Islamophobic events over the past two years we decided to make the map public well before work is complete. Work is ongoing. Ours is by no means an exhaustive accounting of Islamophobic incidents and events nor American Muslim participation in public life. We have consciously limited entries to those that we can source with confidence. Many, many–if not a majority–of everyday instances of Islamophobia go unreported. We dedicate this project to all those who suffer the effects of Islamophobia, particularly those who do so in silence, and to American Muslims dedicating their lives to making our communities the best they can be.

 

From where are we getting our information?

For the vast majority of cases, entries in this project reflect information gathered from media outlets with clear editorial oversight. When creating entries we privilege articles that emerge out of reports to civil rights organizations and/or law enforcement agencies and we refrain from editorial comment, presenting as closely as possible a factual account of an incident, event, or development. Each entry contains the source from which we drew information. Whenever possible, we use reports from newspapers, which we gather directly from the source’s web site, through searchable newspaper databases, such as US Newstream, or via news alerts from civil rights organizations and Google. We have also benefitted from the important labor of others who have taken on the responsibility of tracking reports of Islamophobia to raise awareness, including the Huffington Post‘s project on Islamophobia, using such resources as guides in our search for verifiable media accounts. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about the Mapping Islamophobia Project.

 

Who are we?

Caleb Elfenbein, an associate professor of history and religious studies at Grinnell College, is primary investigator, serving as project editor and contributor.

Julia Schafer, a student at Grinnell College, serves as a contributor, collecting and entering data and participating in discussions about project design and data coding. She also serves as a research team leader and editor.

Farah Omer, a student at Grinnell College, serves as a contributor, collecting and entering data and participating in discussions about project design and data coding.

Sydney Banach, a student at Grinnell College, serves as a contributor, collecting and entering data.

Haseeb Haroon, a student at Grinnell College, served as a contributor, collecting and entering data.

Thomas Aldrich, a student at Grinnell College, served as a contributor, collecting and entering data.

Chloe Briney, while a student at Grinnell College, served as a contributor, collecting and entering data and participating in data coding discussions. She was the first student collaborator on the project.

Mike Conner, formerly a Digital Liberal Arts Specialist at Grinnell College, helped get the project off the ground by providing essential technological guidance and support.

© Caleb Elfenbein