Matthew Jaber Stiffler named Director of the Center for Arab Narratives


Matthew Jaber Stiffler has been named the Center for Arab Narratives, a program that facilitates informed research into the Arab community.

Stiffler has been research and content Manager at the Arab American National Museum (AANM) for 12 years. 

“In his time as Research and Content Manager, he initiated the oral history department, developed the popular Yalla Eat! Culinary Walking Tours, built partnerships with other archives and universities, and helped plan and host multiple convenings of the Arab American Studies Association,” ACCESS said in a statement.

Because Arab Americans are not represented on the US Census, data about the community has been difficult to generate with academics often relying on their own research as well as programs like CAN.

The issue was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic when the number of Arab American infections and related deaths was not tracked by mainstream health authorities.

“With widespread support and input from ACCESS and AANM leadership, Stiffler co-founded the Center for Arab Narratives (CAN) in 2021,” ACCESS said. “CAN facilitates and shares interdisciplinary and community engaged research to improve the wellbeing of Arab communities.”

Stiffler, whose own scholarship focuses on Arab American food and identity, also lectures on Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan.

“Thank you all for the love and support as I begin my role as Director of [CAN]. Our goal is to facilitate and share community-empowered research from a range of disciplines and sectors,” Stiffler wrote on Twitter.

CAN has 20 affiliates and says that it aims to bring “cutting edge research” to Arab and Middle Eastern communities through its social media platforms. 

“The goal is to make research accessible for everyone. It’s the community that enables the research to work, by participating in surveys and studies, and we want community members to have useful and actionable information that affects their daily lives,” ACCESS said.