I am spending the bulk of this summer in New York City, officially getting my honors thesis project off the ground. My thesis will focus on young Muslim women living in the United States and the issues they face. I think that the unique combination of being Muslim, being a woman, and living in the United States leads to some interesting issues, whether positive or negative, and I'm looking at these women to tell me, in their own words, what they think these issues are. My plan is to set up interviews with Muslim women in their 20s and 30s to ask them directly what they think these issues are. I've tentatively narrowed my focus down to covering and veiling, but I didn't want to make a concrete decision until I hear from the women directly. I want to interview women of various ethnic and racial backgrounds, and hope to find both women who were born/grew up Muslim and women who converted at some point in their lives.
I arrived last Tuesday, June 28th, and have contacted various organizations throughout the city to try to get into contact with women of the right demographic. It's been slightly slow going in the last week, but I have quite a few contacts so far, and several women who I am in the process of setting up interviews with. My fingers are crossed that I will have at least one interview later this week, and maybe a couple next week.
Originally, I was overly ambitious and expecting 30 interviews. I am now, hopefully more realistically, looking to get 10-20 interviews, and to have (at least most of) them transcribed and organized before I head back to campus for honors college, where I will have time to do more organizing, note-taking, and writing. I plan to follow up with a few more interviews once I'm back in the Bay Area, trying to fill in the holes I feel I have in the set of interviews I get in New York.
This is all very new to me: doing research on my own, not having a set schedule, waiting (im)patiently for people to email me back so that we can set up interviews. My days remain fairly unstructured, but hopefully as people get back in touch, I will have a little more to do.