Forums and workshops

The Detroit Muslim Storytelling Project: An Oral History Initiative

Posted by Angela Brcka for University Libraries

Join guest scholar Mark Crain and associate professor Dr. Alisa Perkins to learn how the Detroit Muslim Storytelling Project is capturing and documenting oral histories in order to build and disseminate knowledge about the history and scope of African-American Muslim community leadership in Detroit.

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About the Detroit Muslim Storytelling Project

The Detroit Muslim Storytelling Project is an oral history initiative launched in 2020 by the neighborhood revitalization association Dream of Detroit. The project is guided by the principles of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), a method in which the people who are most affected by an issue engage in collaborative knowledge production at every stage of the research process. To generate a collective vision, they enlist neighborhood residents, mosque congregants, local activists, media experts, and young people from within the community to take lead roles in the collection and curation of our oral history material and to create public-facing outputs in partnership with university-based scholars. Funded by grants from the Pillars Fund and the Whiting Foundation, the Detroit Muslim Storytelling Project is currently working on a public archive in cooperation with Western Michigan University's ScholarWorks to house our video-recorded oral history interviews, a website to showcase interview highlights, a documentary film, and a general readership publication. 

About the speakers

Mark Crain

Mark Crain is executive director of Dream of Detroit, a Muslim-led, community-based, neighborhood renewal organization also known as DREAM (Detroit Revival Engaging American Muslims). Prior to joining Dream of Detroit, Crain served as communications and outreach  coordinator for the Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) of Chicago, another Muslim-led organization devoted to community development and civic engagement. Additionally, for nearly a decade, Crain played a dynamic role at , where he served as campaign director, Mobile Innovation Director, and Chief of Member Experience, consulting on political and campaign strategy for highest priority initiatives. 

Dr. Alisa Perkins

Dr. Alisa Perkins is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University. As an anthropologist, Perkins’ ongoing research is an ethnographic study of Muslim American civic engagement in the Detroit-metro area. She is currently collaborating with the non-profit organization Dream of Detroit on “The Detroit Muslim Storytelling Project,” a public humanities initiative to build knowledge about the city’s  African-American Muslim leadership, with support from the Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation.  Perkins’ first book, Muslim American City: Gender and Religion in Metro Detroit was published by NYU Press in 2020.

About the series

This event is part of Capturing Community: Digital Storytelling and Community-Driven Archives Speaker Series, a collaboration between Western Michigan University Center for the Humanities and University Libraries. In this series, guest scholars talk about how they use community-driven archiving and digital storytelling collaborations to highlight underrepresented communities, preserve their histories and stories, and capture history-making social justice movements. 


Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021
Time: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Location: Webex
Contact: Amy Bocko
Email for more information