Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Charles McGovern

Committee Member

Francesca Sawaya

Committee Member

Lynn Weiss

Committee Member

Celene Ibrahim


This dissertation examines three periods in Euro-American history that appear disparate but reflect the West’s changing relationship with the Islamic World and with Muslims, in particular with Muslim women, in Muslim-majority countries, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Specifically, this dissertation examines how Muslim women’s agency in the United States evolved from the erotic, provocative performance of the hootchy-kootchy at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to the political and economic activism after post-September 11th, the Trump Era, and finally a different kind of agency through radicalization through the Islamic State (IS). The structure of this dissertation uses the voice of the narrator Scheherazade, from the 1001 Arabian Nights, co-opted by the Western literary canon, secularized, and made into a fairy tale princess through popular culture into a secular entity. It also uses the post-9/11 site of “Ground Zero” as both the actual and metaphorical site where Muslim women’s agency and visibility, dictated until this point by popular culture, media, and fairy tale, began to evolve into a more assertive presence both within the Muslim communities in the West but also as citizens of Western nations. The research for this dissertation draws upon a cross-section of the material culture from the Maghreb, the newly industrialized United States, political protest, entrepreneurship, and social media woven together to illustrate a century of navigating a religious, social, and political identity and citizenship borne of conflict with, and assimilation within, Western nations.


© The Author