Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Richard Alba

Committee Members

Lynn Chancer

Robert C. Smith

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Migration Studies | Sociology of Religion


Turkish immigrants, religion, gender, immigration, ethnicity, boundary-work


This dissertation focuses on the symbolic boundary-making processes of first-generation Turkish immigrants in New York and New Jersey, where Islam has been tainted with negative meanings and symbols. By focusing on the characteristics, salience and endurance of ethno-national, religious and gender boundaries that immigrants perceive and experience in the U.S., it examines the possibilities of social inclusion and assimilation/integration of immigrants into the mainstream society. The dissertation addresses following research questions: What sort of symbols and markers, as well as narratives do immigrants use in order to construct boundaries regarding American society? How do Turkish immigrants, in the aftermath of September 11, situate themselves vis-à-vis other Muslims in general, and those in the U.S. in particular? What is the nature of the religious boundary Turkish immigrants experience in their every day life in the U.S.? How does gender play role in immigrants’ identification processes as well as their experiences in America? It studies these questions using 52 in-depth interviews with first generation immigrants residing in New York and New Jersey, as well as participant observations in community events and religious gatherings. By identifying the markers, permeability and strength of these boundaries, this project contributes to the literature and debates on immigration, identification, integration and symbolic boundaries in receiving societies.