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Meet the New Faculty: Taneem Husain, Women’s and Gender Studies

Keene State's new assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies,...
Keene State's new assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Taneem Husain

Identity formation has long been established as an important developmental goal of students during their college years. As a young Muslim woman attending the University of Maryland, Taneem Husain not only explored her own identity, but began looking at how Muslims were being portrayed in the media. “In those classes my identity started coalescing, and I started feeling more comfortable with the idea of being a Muslim woman and also being a feminist,” she said.

Joining the Keene State faculty as an assistant professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department this fall, Husain hopes to help her students mold their own identity and be critical thinkers. “Women’s and gender studies is primarily about encouraging you to think critically about the world around you,” she said. “I try to do that in a variety of different ways.”

Growing up in Rockville, Maryland, Husain initially considered a career in the non-profit sector, but resurfacing ideas regarding Islam, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, altered her plans. “That colored the way that I thought about the world and the way I thought about my career,” she said. “After that I decided that I wanted to do something that had to do with education."

“It became a part of my identity at that point, and I really felt like I had to carry a burden of representing Muslims on my back,” Husain added. “I felt the things I was doing weren’t just for me, but for a larger population. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone when they’re young.”

Husain further explored the role and representation of Muslim women in America while earning her master’s and PhD from Ohio State University. Husain spent a year at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota before coming to Keene State, having received the Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Consortium for Faculty Diversity.

Husain says she enjoys Keene State’s liberal arts atmosphere and the opportunity to connect and exchange ideas with her students. “That lends well to my personality, especially with issues dealing with gender and race,” she said.

When it comes to addressing the topic of difference, Husain says she has a core message that she tries to convey in all of her classes. “I try to tell students the pitfalls of categorizing people based on seeing one thing or reading one thing,” she said. “I just think we need to develop a more nuanced way of looking at difference. It’s a drain on the world and everybody else when people are perceived one way.”