Professor Neda Maghbouleh featured in UofT News

Sociology Assistant Professor Neda Maghbouleh was recently featured in the U of T News discussing her latest book,  The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race. In the article Professor Maghbouleh explains the motivations for her research as well as the methods she employed to learn about Iranian-American youth experiences in the USA.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

U of T’s Neda Maghbouleh explores culture, identity and discrimination in new book about Iranian-Americans

By Romi Levine | Oct. 26, 2017

When President Donald Trump introduced an executive order barring people from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., it was further confirmation for Neda Maghbouleh of what she learned from years spent researching her latest book The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race.

“The people it affected the most proportionately were Iranians and it was precisely because of the predicament I’m describing in the book,” says Maghbouleh, an assistant professor in the department of sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga.

The Limits of Whiteness explores the grey area where Iranian-Americans exist – they’re legally categorized as white but socially and culturally are often excluded and discriminated against, she says.

To get a real understanding of what it’s like to be an Iranian-American, Maghbouleh interviewed and shadowed 84 young people living across the United States whose parents were born in Iran.

“I was interested in knowing more about the nitty-gritty of everyday life,” she says. “There was so little written about Iranians and I was in the field with my ears open to try to see what were the salient issues.”

Read the full article here.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh on how place makes race

A chapter from Professor Neda Maghbouleh’s recently published book, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, was recently featured in a blog post on the Standford University Press Blog. The chapter explores how race becomes constructed through one’s ties to certain places. Professor Maghbouleh teaches at the UTM campus and studies race and immigration, with a focus on groups from the broad Middle East. We have posted an excerpt of the blog post below.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
How place determines race for racially in-between immigrants.

by Neda Maghbouleh

July 4, 2002, was a particularly humid Independence Day in Boston. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. I had stayed on campus to work, and for the first time my family had come to visit me in New England. That year, we found ourselves among the thousands of revelers who descended in undulating waves down to the banks of the Charles River to see the fireworks. My mom and little sister scrambled onto the first available patch of grass while I unrolled a blanket I had snatched off my twin-size dorm room bed hours earlier. My aunt unpacked almonds, cantaloupe, and soda from a plastic shopping bag; my dad, ambling slowly, as he does, brought up the rear.

As we fanned ourselves on the blanket, my parents discussed how twenty years earlier to the day they had boarded a Fourth of July flight to Portland, Oregon, with me, at nine months old, in tow. We were striking out on our own, away from New York City, where I was born and where, as new immigrants from Iran, my parents worked in a Persian rug store owned by my dad’s extended family.

That morning in Boston I was the last to notice the white woman on the next blanket over who was staring at us in disgust. She stared at my dad in particular, who in a bit of confusion politely smiled back at her between his bites of cantaloupe. She whispered something in her companion’s ear; they rolled up their blanket and left, flip-flop sandals smacking up and down against the ground. We didn’t see or think about the women for a few minutes until two men in sunglasses and cargo shorts began to walk in wide circles around our blanket. “Oh my God,” my mom whispered to me in Persian. “The cops are watching us.” The July humidity was already intense, but it began to feel suffocating. Within seconds, a uniformed police officer and his K-9 approached us.

“What brings you folks down here today?” the officer asked my dad.

“Fourth of July, the fireworks,” my dad replied.

The K-9 sniffed the plastic bag that held our snacks as the officer probed further: “Okay, where are you from?”

“We’re visiting our daughter; she goes to college here. We are from Portland, Oregon,” my dad said softly.

Like the two women before him, who now stood smirking at a safe distance away from us, the officer seemed unconvinced. He scrutinized our blanket and what sat on it: four women, one man, all of them sweaty, with dark hair, skin between white and brown, speaking to each other in English and something else. The uniformed officer made a slight gesture and, before the plainclothes officers he’d signaled swooped in for backup, he clarified the question: “I didn’t ask where you live. I said where are you from?”

Read the full post here.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh’s new book asks what “whiteness” means for Iranian Americans

Professor Neda Maghbouleh has recently published a book exploring the racialization of Iranian Americans. The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race draws on ethnographic and archival research that Professor Maghbouleh began in her dissertation and postdoctoral research projects to show how Iranians navigate ambiguous identities in the American racial landscape.

The book’s publisher, Stanford University Press, includes the following blurb on their website:

When Roya, an Iranian American high school student, is asked to identify her race, she feels anxiety and doubt. According to the federal government, she and others from the Middle East are white. Indeed, a historical myth circulates even in immigrant families like Roya’s, proclaiming Iranians to be the “original” white race. But based on the treatment Roya and her family receive in American schools, airports, workplaces, and neighborhoods—interactions characterized by intolerance or hate—Roya is increasingly certain that she is not white. In The Limits of Whiteness, Neda Maghbouleh offers a groundbreaking, timely look at how Iranians and other Middle Eastern Americans move across the color line.

By shadowing Roya and more than 80 other young people, Maghbouleh documents Iranian Americans’ shifting racial status. Drawing on never-before-analyzed historical and legal evidence, she captures the unique experience of an immigrant group trapped between legal racial invisibility and everyday racial hyper-visibility. Her findings are essential for understanding the unprecedented challenge Middle Easterners now face under “extreme vetting” and potential reclassification out of the “white” box. Maghbouleh tells for the first time the compelling, often heartbreaking story of how a white American immigrant group can become brown and what such a transformation says about race in America.

Read more about the book and Professor Maghbouleh’s research on her website.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh interviewed about Syrian refugee families by Canadian Family

Neda MaghboulehCanadian Family magazine recently ran an article featuring an interview with Professor Neda Maghbouleh. Professor Maghbouleh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the Mississauga campus. The article asks how Canadians can help Syrian refugee families as they settle in Canada. Professor Maghbouleh’s answers draw from the SSHRC-funded study she is currently conducting with Professors Melissa Milkie and Ito Peng that investigates the mental health challenges faced by Syrian refugee parents.

The full interview is available on the Canadian Family website. We have posted an excerpt of it here.

Making Canada a Home: How Canadians Can Help Syrian Families

Syrian families face cultural, financial, and emotional challenges as newcomers to Canada. Here’s how everyday Canadians can help.

Many parents know the difficulties that come with moving. Leaving behind friends, family, and neighbours can be hard for kids, and at times even heartbreaking. Meanwhile, adjusting to life in a new home can be a long process, taking anywhere from months to years.

Add to these factors a mix of cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers, and migrating families face a unique set of challenges. Yet Syrian families have shouldered theses same burdens as refugees to Canada, and continue to do so, according to a study from the University of Toronto.

A number of these challenges stem from a lack of social resources. Since the launch of Canada’s resettlement program in 2015, sociologists Neda Maghbouleh, Ito Peng, and Melissa Milkie have interviewed Syrian mothers on how immigration has impacted their mental health. Many Syrian mothers expressed feelings of social isolation, with those under government sponsorships describing fewer social ties.

Over time, these feelings of isolation can take an emotional toll. “Uprooting your life to move from one home to another is already a very stressful life event,” Maghbouleh explains. “But for refugees, a sense of control over their destiny can feel elusive or undermined in a new land. So it’s crucial for Canadians to respect and support Syrian newcomers’ sense of agency, purpose, and self-confidence in the process of resettlement.

Read the full article.

3 Sociology professors look into parenting stress experienced by Syrian refugees

Melissa MilkieNeda MaghboulehIto PengWith fully 60 percent of Canada’s recent influx of Syrian refugees being under the age of 15, this group is largely composed of children and the adults who care for them. The parents or primary caregivers of these children face both the enormous tasks involved in acclimatizing themselves to a new culture and environment and the strains linked to the financial support, schooling, and care of children. Funded by SSHRC as part of a special call for research into the experiences of the Syrian refugees, research by Professors Melissa Milkie, Neda Maghbouleh and Ito Peng seeks to understand the parenting stress that these new Canadians experience.

The three professors recently presented some of the early findings at the Metropolis conference in Montreal. Reporting on 43 wave 1 interviews, preliminary findings show three major stressors that Syrian refugee mothers experience. First, a major stressor for most Syrian refugee mothers upon resettlement is the crystallization of deep losses – such as the separation from close family members like their own parents, who are unable, unwilling or are not chosen to be resettled in Canada. The extended family is thus not able to support mothers in the ways they may have in the past. Second, school stressors exist for some families, but are relatively minor and most often solved readily; and/or resources to solve school concerns are clear. Finally, although mothers feel a sense of mastery in their successful creation of physical safety for their children, they experience a powerful cultural stressor in their lack of control over their children’s distant but impending adulthood in a new land with different cultural standards and norms.

They will be presenting an invited panel at the Canadian Sociological Association meeting on May 31st.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh on NPR

Neda MaghboulehProfessor Neda Maghbouleh recently spoke on the NPR show Code Switch about why some people say Persian and some say Iranian.

Code Switch is a  podcast about race and identity. On April 19th, the show responded to the letters from their listeners. At minute 9:41, they called on Professor Maghbouleh to discuss the complications around the Iranian diaspora and racial or ethnic identity.

Listen to the show here.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh featured on UTM’s Research News site

The Research Office at the University of Toronto, Mississauga recently posted a profile of Professor Neda Maghbouleh, a sociologist specializing in race and ethnicity. The full profile is available here. The following is an excerpt:

Hitting Home

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – 4:35pm
Carla DeMarco
U of T Mississauga Sociology prof studies migration, minorities and moms’ groups.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh from UTM’s Department of Sociology says she is enjoying a sweet spot of satisfaction that she attributes to the string of successes she’s had of late: her first book, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian-Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, is being published by Stanford University Press and has been called “groundbreaking,” and the recently funded research projects she is working on have the potential for significant social impact.

“I feel like I am in the ‘pink cloud’ of happiness right now, where my new projects haven’t hit roadblocks yet,” says Maghbouleh, who is currently following three streams in her research.

First, Maghbouleh is embarking on a new collaboration with Professors Melissa Milkie (UTM) and Ito Peng (UTSG) with funds awarded this fall by a rapid response, targeted opportunity to study Syrian newcomers and integration.

This project is supported by a joint initiative through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Their research team will focus on assessing parenting and integration stress among Syrian newcomer parents whose children have integrated into local schools at the elementary- and secondary-school levels.

Read the full profile.

What happens when first-time mothers take maternity leave?

What happens when first-time mothers take maternity leave?

For one thing, they begin to socialize with each other. With months or years away from the workforce and a whole new identity as a parent, women often seek out groups where they share parenting-related knowledge and, in many cases, gain emotional and social support. The women benefit in obvious ways – they feel less isolated, they share knowledge and insights, and they experience mental and physical health benefits.

But the benefits may also reach beyond the individual.

A new research project undertaken by Professor Neda Maghbouleh will study the ways in which involvement in mothers’ groups affects civic engagement, and how this varies in different parts of the city and by different axes of inequality.

In Toronto, there are examples of mothers’ groups, initially formed for post-partum socialization, that engage in civic work like neighbourhood revitalization, refugee sponsorship, and local fundraising. Some of the groups are formally organized by provinces and local municipalities and led by public health nurses or social workers; others are formally or informally established among neighbours, library patrons, or local café “regulars.” In either case, they are deeply embedded in the local community.

Which might explain a growth of civic engagement.

It is unlikely, however, that the experience is uniform across the city. Social life in Toronto has increasingly polarized around axes of inequality like income/class, immigration status, and race/ethnicity/religion. Given rising levels of inequity in the city, any positive outcomes associated with mothers’ groups are likely to be deeply entwined with, and shaped by, social inequality

Professor Maghbouleh has recently received a Connaught New Researcher Award to fund the initial stages of this project. With this funding, she and a graduate student will map the formal and informal mothers’ groups in Toronto and conduct pilot interviews with a strategically sampled selection of the women in these groups.