I have been working on this project for over a decade now, and many, many people have accompanied me along various parts of this journey. First and foremost, I am deeply grateful for the trust and generosity shown me by the young Palestinian Americans whose wisdom and stories ground this book. Their tenacious commitment to stating their truths even in the face of a dangerous political climate gives me much hope for this world. Many adults worked with me at Regional High to create spaces within which these young people could examine, and speak back to, the dominant discourses that framed their community in a negative light. My thanks to Laureen Griffin, Sonia Rosen, Hazami Sayed, and Ahlam Yassin, and the two sponsors of the after-school program who must remain nameless here for reasons of confidentiality but without whose support none of this work would have been possible. Teachers and administrators at Regional High are due thanks for their willingness to participate in this research, which was, by its very nature, contentious. For their generosity in talking openly about difficult topics, I am grateful. Many years of conversation with Hazami Sayed about how to leverage artistic media in the service of civic education have deepened my understanding of this relationship. Dahna Abourahme has been an intellectual and activist partner in thinking about how to support young people in “speaking truth to power.”
I have been blessed with a number of fabulous research assistants along the way: Sally Bonet, Nehad Khader, Sonia Rosen, Shelley Wu, and Ahlam Yassin. Mara Hughes provided detailed copyediting of the first version of this manuscript. Thanks also to Susan J. Cohan for her attention to detail and stylistic advice on the final version of the book.
Without the support of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation (p.226) Postdoctoral Fellowship, I would never have been able to do this research. A 2013–14 fellowship from the Institute for Research on Women (IRW) at Rutgers University offered both the needed course release and the intellectual community that supported me in finishing this manuscript. Thanks also to Harvard Educational Review for permission to reprint, with revisions, selections that first appeared in the journal.
Many individuals read and commented on conference papers and journal articles that have found their way into this book in some form: Patricia Buck, Rosalie Rolón-Dow, Michelle Fine, Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, Kathy Hall, Bradley Levinson, Meira Levinson, Ray McDermott, Patricia Mascias, Catherine Raissiguier, Robyn Rodriguez, Zakia Salime, Carla Shalaby, Doris Warriner, and members of the 2008 Columbia University Women and Society Seminar. Thanks also to Yana Rogers for her thoughtful discussant comments, and to members of the 2013–14 Rutgers University IRW seminar for their generous reading of chapter 4. Sa’ed Atshan is due thanks for commenting on my “lay” history of Palestine. Brahim El Guabli helped me with the Arabic transliterations.
Lesley Bartlett, Andrea Dyrness, Bradley Levinson, and one anonymous reviewer offered generous and critical readings of the book manuscript in its entirety, pushing me to read new literatures and clarify further aspects of my arguments. I know how much of a commitment it takes to read an entire manuscript so carefully, and to each of you, I am truly grateful. Elizabeth Branch Dyson, my editor, talked through my ideas for this book over more years, and more lunches, than I can count. For having the faith, even without having read a single page, that I would one day hand you a complete manuscript, I thank you. This is a much better book for your wise editorial advice and your deep knowledge of what makes a person want to read a book.
Writing is often characterized as a lonely profession, and yet many people have written alongside me for much of this journey in coffee shops, libraries, and on retreat in Vermont. I consider this my adult version of parallel play. Until our teaching schedules became incompatible, Rosalie Rolón-Dow offered consistent companionship and intellectual conversation. Ariana Mangual Figueroa brought new energy to my thinking about citizenship when she joined me as a colleague and friend at Rutgers. Samira Haj and Jane Huber have each spent time writing with me in Vermont. For knowing how to balance intense work with deep conversation, good cooking, and play, I thank you both. Because I write at the High Point coffee shop, the center of my local community, I had the great fortune to meet Lorrin Thomas along this journey. Thank you, Lorrin, for writing and knitting alongside me, thinking with me about citizenship, laughing and crying about the joys and struggles of being a (p.227) mother and a professor, and holding a historian’s perspective on how long it actually takes to write a book. Kathy Schultz wrote with me once a week for over a decade until she moved to California. I think you know, Kathy, how much I miss you constantly and how you remain a part of all of my work. For being a steadfast friend and colleague, true intellectual partner, sharer of great literature, and model of a life committed to making schools everywhere more loving places for children and teachers, I am grateful. Beth Rubin has offered deep friendship and the kind of intellectual and professional collaboration that makes me look forward to going to work. You cannot possibly know how much the development of my thinking about youth citizenship education has been so fundamentally connected to your own work. Thanks for this intellectual companionship, and for your generous and numerous reads of different parts of this text, as well as for growing with me these past eleven years, for writing with and next to me, for sharing your time in Guatemala, for “retreating” in New York and Vermont, and for making it work for our families to be friends together even though we are separated by a state. Ellen Skilton and I have written side by side once a week for at least fifteen years now, and she has read more drafts of various pieces of this book than I can remember. Her thinking about what it means to craft an education that truly sees other people has shaped my own profoundly. There is so much to thank you for: constant, unfaltering love and friendship; taking time to play as hard as we work; figuring out how to laugh in moments when that seems impossible; reminding me that this is the only job you and I would ever be suited for; knitting, knitting, knitting; and always, always being on the other end of the perceiver hotline.
Two people are due special thanks for having been my writing partners. Reva Jaffe-Walter has read every chapter of this book, often with lightning speed. Her own brilliant work about Muslim im/migrant youth in Danish schools, her knowledge of our mutual field, and careful readings of my work have pushed my thinking in many directions. I could not have written this book without Jennifer Riggan. We formed our writing group at a moment when I was losing faith in my project. These past two years of sharing every piece of this book made it possible for me to continue, and reading and rereading her own amazing book about Eritrean teachers, state schools, and nationalism opened up many new lines of thinking in my own. Jen, I cannot thank you enough for your faith in this project, and your incredible attention to both argument and detail. Your unrelenting support made me finish.
Many friends have supported me in emotional and material ways, and they have not given up on me when I put them off because I had to work on this book. Thanks especially to Karen and Alan Zaur, Cheryl Stayton, Janelle Junkin, and Fadwa Kashkash for all your support.
(p.228) My family has been amazing, providing the love and care necessary to undertake this kind of project. Thanks to my sisters, Nadia and Tabatha Abu El-Haj, for emotional support and intellectual conversation throughout this journey. Mildred Rosenzweig has been the best of mothers to me for many, many years now. My daughters have not only patiently shared me with yet another book project; they have also encouraged me at every point of the journey. Both writers and artists, they know the ups and downs of the creative process, and they have reminded me to keep going even through the tough places. Once again, I could not have done this project without my life partner, Steve Rosenzweig, who supports my work in all the emotional and material ways necessary. For your steadfast belief that this work is worth doing, and for your love, companionship, integrity, and partnership on this life’s journey, I am truly blessed.