May 21, 2020
Halal Metropolis is a three-year artistic and discussion-based exploration of Muslim identities and visibility in Southeast Michigan organized by U-M Dearborn Historian and Center for Arab American Studies Director Sally Howell; Photographer Razi Jafri; and Stamps School of Art & Design Associate Professor and Artist Osman Khan.
A collection of multi-site exhibitions, installations, talks, performances, and workshops, Halal Metropolis pivoted to the digital space once the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan.
The interviews have been posted almost every day, and often twice daily, since April 2, and they’ve included a wide range of Dearborn’s Muslim leaders including frontline workers, health care providers, entrepreneurs, business owners, grocery store owners, politicians, artists, and cultural workers. In part, the series has served in part as a chronicle of Ramadan under the shadow of a pandemic.
The series has also chronicled the way artists in the Muslim community have responded to the pandemic. For example, Dr. Diana Abouali, executive director of the Arab American National Museum, discussed how the museum has pivoted to offer programming online. Khan notes that artists may not be on the frontline of the crisis, but they will be “important in the fourth or fifth wave” of response.
“There are more important things to happen on the front line,” he says. “But at some point, the cultural worker has a place to reflect on this.”