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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Arab American Literature: Oral Histories

This LibGuide highlights the works of Arab American authors.


Oral histories are key pieces of Arab and Arab American culture. This section highlights works on Arab American oral histories, including books, articles, and recordings.










Authors & Works

Alixa Naff

Dr. Alixa Naff was born in Rashayya al-Wadi, a village in the Anti-Lebanon—the western mountain range of the former Ottoman province of Syria, in modern-day Lebanon. Her parents, Faris and Yamna Naff, immigrated with their two little girls to the United States in 1921. She is considered the mother of Arab American Studies. She believed that the Arab American immigrants’ experience was important to research. When Alixa found that primary materials were non-existent, she went out and collected and preserved oral histories and artifacts. 

Oral History Works:

Becoming American: The Early Arab Immigrant Experience

The Arab Americans

Alia Malek

Malek was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1974. Her parents had immigrated to the United States from Syria. Malek graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1996. She then earned a J.D. degree at Georgetown University Law Center. She worked as a civil rights lawyer at the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and later went back to school to obtain a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Oral History Works: 

A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories

Charlotte Karem Albrecht

Charlotte Karem Albrecht received her Ph.D. in 2013 in Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota. Her research interests coalesce around issues of power and subjectivity for Arab Americans and how Arab American experiences, historical narratives, and cultural production have been formed in relation to other minoritized communities.

Oral History Works:

Narrating Arab American History: The Peddling Thesis

Igor Nunes Houwat

A Lebanese-Brazilian dual citizen having lived most of his life in Lebanon. Houwat moved to the United States to work on a Masters degree in saxophone performance at Michigan State University.

Oral History Work:

Maintaining a Musical Tradition in Arab-America: An Oral History of Abdel Karim Bader

More Oral Histories