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Updated 8:30 AM April 16, 2007
 

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Study and dialogue will boost understanding, professor says

The climate post 9/11 in which misinformation and negative stereotypes of Arab Americans have grown can be addressed by recognizing cultural differences and through dialogue.

"It's important to collect the facts and have the Arab American community speak for itself. We need these facts to become a part of our dialogues," said Wayne Baker, professor in the Ross School of Business, during his lecture "Citizenship, Crisis and Traditional Values" April 6 at the Ross school.

Baker's lecture was based on the Detroit Arab American Study (DAAS). He is one of its lead researchers. The DAAS was designed to assess the long-term social and political impact of 9/11 on Arab Americans living in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Fifteen percent of Arab Americans had a bad experience after 9/11, he reported. Muslim Arab Americans, who make up 42 percent of the local Arab population, had more difficulty than Christian Arab Americans.

About one-third of all Arab Americans had a positive experience after 9/11, such as expressions of solidarity and support from someone who was not of Middle Eastern descent. Those who had a positive experience felt safer and more secure than those who did not.

Led by Baker and Ronald Stockman of U-M-Dearborn, the DAAS team included five other investigators, and spanned the disciplines of sociology, political science, anthropology, history and American studies.

The DAAS received a 73 percent response rate, which suggests that the Arab American community strongly supported it, Baker said. Data were collected on citizenship, religion, identity, social capital, values and experiences related to 9/11.

Baker's lecture last week was part of the LSA theme year, "Theory and Practice of Citizenship: From the Local to the Global" and was sponsored by the Ross School, Institute for Social Research and the Department of Sociology.

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