UM-Dearborn’s Center for Arab American Studies receives grant to advance intercultural understanding

May 7, 2018

The grant, funded through the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts, supports the expansion of ‘Halal Metropolis.’

UM-Dearborn Center for Arab American Studies logo
Center for Arab American Studies logo

A University of Michigan-Dearborn project designed to cultivate stronger relationships among Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbors has received funding through the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts’ Building Bridges 2017-18 Grants Program. 

UM-Dearborn’s Center for Arab American Studies (CAAS) was awarded $216,677 for the expansion of “Halal Metropolis,” a three-year project inviting the community into a multidisciplinary, architectural and place-based exploration of how Muslim culture has enriched key public spaces in Detroit and southeast Michigan.

“We are incredibly grateful for the Doris Duke Foundation’s commitment to support projects that build and strengthen relationships in our community,” said CAAS Director Sally Howell. “Through ‘Halal Metropolis,’ we plan to demonstrate the many ways in which Muslims are contributing to the economy and culture of the region, and especially the revitalization of Detroit.” 

“Halal Metropolis” is a collaboration between Howell, photographer Razi Jafri and artist Osman Khan that will culminate in a 2019-2021 exhibition. The exhibition will focus on the streetscapes, sartorial displays, spoken word traditions, vernacular architecture, storefronts and other means through which Muslims communicate their presence to one another and to non-Muslims. 

CAAS was one of 15 U.S.-based grantees selected for funding by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts’ Building Bridges 2017-18 Grants Program. Harnessing a wide range of media, including theater, spoken word, literature, documentary film and radio, the grantees will develop pop-up and long-term cultural programming in their communities across the U.S. The grantees, which range from arts and media institutions to higher education and social service organizations, span many approaches and locations across the country but are all united in the goal of increasing harmony and connections for mutual well-being. 

“When our trust and connections to one another break down, we are all the poorer for it,” said Zeyba Rahman, senior program officer for the Building Bridges Program. “One of the most tested and reliable ways in which we can ignite cross-community understanding and dissipate fear is through storytelling. It can serve as the glue that binds us together by providing direct entry into one another’s inner worlds and become the basis for lasting relationships. We are honored to support these 15 new projects, which creatively reimagine ways to promote social cohesion in our communities while celebrating the cultural contributions of Muslims to our American identity.” 

These organizations were selected from a pool of more than 200 initial applicants requesting more than $26 million in funding for their projects—more than a 100 percent rise from the previous year, which saw 98 applicants requesting approximately $10 million. The new grantees of the Building Bridges Program’s fifth annual open competition for funding are receiving project support ranging from $50,000 to $300,000.