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Batool Abdellhafez '21

ars nova

Majors: Anthropology & Psychology
Bio: Batool Abdelhafez is a first-generation Egyptian-American and Senior at Fordham University Lincoln Center. They study Anthropology and Psychology through a multicultural and decolonial lens. As such, Batool aims to enter the field of counseling psychology.

Title of Research: Identity, Duality, and Kinship Among LGBT Arab-Americans in the NYC diaspora
Mentor: Dr. Aseel Sawalha
Abstract: The SWANA region (South West Asia & North Africa) has many varying factors that play in the formation of an “Arab” identity. Religion, sect, family, community, geography, political affiliation, ethnicity, and social class—all being inherited factors—play significant roles in defining who people are as Arabs. Other factors such as class hierarchies, immigration statuses and their intersects are also key components to Arab identity formation, which this study also examines. Moreover, given that queerness is not a socially acceptable factor in the region, it becomes a struggle to identify oneself as LGBT+ while maintaining identities that many LGBT+ Arab-Americans deem important. Therefore, this research project aims to address how young LGBT+ Arab-Americans between the ages of 18 through 30 navigate their queer and racial identities among their families, homes, schools, and workplaces in several diasporic enclaves throughout NYC. Self-identifying Arab-Americans with ancestral or heritage ties to one or more of the 22 Arab League countries have been recruited for the study. All participants also self-identify with any part of the LGBT+ spectrum. Furthermore, all participants reside in or frequently visit NYC. Data collection is ongoing, however all the current participants have indicated that their identity formation occurs under the contexts of geopolitics and colonialism in their ancestral lands. The intergenerational trauma participants experience is dual: the trauma of not belonging and the trauma of orientalism. Therefore, this dual trauma is the catalyst for the formation of a new identity among LGBT+ Arab-American communities in NYC. Ultimately, this study aims to address how identity and kinship ties are created among groups of LGBT+ Arab-Americans in NYC, and how one’s LGBT+ identity informs their Arab-American identity.