As America tried to absorb the shock of the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans were caught up in an unprecedented wave of backlash violence. Public discussion revealed that widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islam persisted, despite the striking diversity of the Muslim community. Letting the voices of 140 ordinary Muslim American men and women describe their experiences, Lori Peek's path-breaking book, Behind the Backlash, presents moving accounts of prejudice and exclusion. Muslims speak of being subjected to harassment before the attacks, and recount the discrimination they encountered afterwards. Peek also explains the struggles of young Muslim adults to solidify their community and define their identity during a time of national crisis. Behind the Backlash seeks to explain why blame and scape-goating occur after a catastrophe. Peek sets the twenty-first century experience of Muslim Americans, who were vilified and victimized, in the context of larger sociological and psychological processe
Lori Peek is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Co-director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University. She has published widely on vulnerable populations in disaster and is co-editor of Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora.
“One of the most devastating effects of a widespread disaster is its ability to create shifts in the prevailing cultural climate of an entire countryside and to change the way the various peoples of the countryside relate to each other. Behind the Backlash is a compelling, perceptive, and sensitively drawn portrayal of what happened to Muslim Americans, among the most loyal of national groups, when the dark shadow known as 9/11 passed over our land. A truly important study.”
“While relating the stories of Muslims struggling for acceptance in America in the wake of 9/11, Behind the Backlash offers analytic insights that demonstrate many of the social dynamics at work in Muslim marginalization and traumatization, as well as in their constructive responses. What Peek describes has important implications for all Americans concerned for minority groups that suddenly become suspect.”
“In Behind the Backlash, Lori Peek weaves together the voices of American Muslims who tell of life lived in a post-9/11 world with the demagoguery of the media, official reports, and history. Her finished tapestry is a compelling dialogue between the human experiences of bigotry and the abstract forces that drive it. Behind the Backlash challenges each of us to reexamine the importance of tolerance in a civilized society. This book will be widely read and discussed. Bravo.”