INTRODUCTION

Hello, I’m Valentina

I am a cultural and political sociologist who is passionate about the study of civic inclusion, religion, togetherness, and issues of representation in U.S. public life.

In the field while conducting research for the dissertation

I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. My dissertation, titled “Imagining Inclusion: How Muslim Advocates Craft Public Images in U.S. Civic Life,” explores how American Muslim advocates project civic membership in the U.S. amidst the minefield of multiple exclusions that cast Muslims as religious, ethnic, and racial “others.” In my previous published research, I investigated how American Muslims bridge religious differences in U.S. civic settings and how they use Islamic religious meanings to make sense of their civic engagement while navigating their non-dominant religious status in the U.S. All my work broadly contributes to theorizing the possibilities for and limits of inclusion in civic cultures embedded in exclusionary religious, racial, and ethnic logics.

With my professors of Arabic, Dr. Ali and Dr. Nourhan in Alexandria, Egypt.

I am the first in my family to attend college. Before joining the department of Sociology at USC, I obtained a BA and an MA in Arabic from Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy, the city where I was born and raised. I subsequently earned an MA in Nationalism Studies with Advanced Certificate in Religious Studies from the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. Between my studies, I have spent various periods of time living, working, and studying in countries such as Syria, Egypt, and Palestine. I owe my research interests and intellectual curiosity to such experiences which have shaped me both as a scholar committed to studying inclusion and as a human being open to submerging myself in cultural spaces so different yet simultaneously so similar to mine.

I have a fluffy research assistant named Tosca who loves to edit my papers by deleting entire paragraphs with her little paws.