Sayema Abedin ‘22
Major: Political Science
Bio: Sayema Abedin is a senior/accelerated M.A student, receiving her B.A in Political Science with a minor in Communication and Culture and M.A in Ethics and Society. She intends to enter the DEI field to help build more inclusive and welcoming communities.
Title of Research: Islamic Foodways: Texts, Cultures, and the Practical-Political Ethics of Campus Dining
Mentor: Dr. Christiana Zenner, Department of Theology
Abstract: In this project, we’ve investigated the literary, cultural, political, ethical, and practical aspects of dining accessibility among New York City colleges for students of faith with a specific focus on Islamic diets, and how the disintegration of halal cuisine into campus living can create an exclusionary effect towards Muslim students. Through this ongoing research, we continue to learn about the practical conditions of Muslim foodways on campuses, political and cultural framings of food normativities, and literary narratives that offer perspectives on Islam in the context of non-Muslim institutions. Using these sources, we will coalesce this knowledge with college dining services and how New York City as a university location affects the kinds of menus curated for student and faculty demographics. Additionally, we will analyze codes of conduct for anti-discrimination policies and related article sections concerning diversity, inclusion, and equity development, with the prospect of both visualizing (to make possible) and problematizing (as operating from an implicit, dominant, non-neutral subject position) the ideal of “inclusion.” Through our mixed-methods research advocacy report, we invite others to consider, critique, and engage the promises and pitfalls of DEI language and framing in establishing campus cultures of pluralism and diverse forms of flourishing, and to situate the pursuit of halal dining within and beyond this framework, resulting in a constructive, rigorous, multidisciplinary presentation and proposal of the literary, cultural, political, ethical, and practical aspects of religious dining accessibility at Fordham University.