Despite great scholarly attention paid to media representation of Arabs and Muslims in relation to terrorist tropes (Alsultany 2012; Shaheen 2015) and scant but important sociological studies of the experiences of second-generation American Muslims1, there is a gap in research surrounding media representation of the second-generation specifically. With national attention shifting to homegrown terrorism, and radicalization of Muslims in America, media representation of the second-generation may become equally, if not more important than representation of Arab or Muslim foreign nationals. Media representation of Muslims has been studied primarily as a tool which shapes understandings of historical reality for mainstream “viewer-citizens” (Alsultany 2012). So far, these studies have not considered the effects of media representation on the actual subjects of the representation- Muslim Americans.

This paper will offer a case study of a wildly popular podcast about a Muslim American born to Pakistani immigrants, and will shift the focus away from the mainstream audience towards second-generation Muslims themselves. A thorough content analysis of the podcast, as well as a study of audience reception, will reveal the potential role of media representation in shaping second generation identity. Just as studies of reactive ethnicity have shown that a hostile context characterized by discrimination may reinforce ethnic-solidarity among members of the new second generation, my study will demonstrate how a podcast that shed light on potential legal discrimination toward a Muslim child of South Asian immigrants, may have fostered a similar sense of solidarity (Portes and Rumbaut 2001).

Serial, a serialized audio narrative and a spin-off of NPR’s This American Life, put the Muslim community of the Baltimore suburbs on the map for millions of listeners around the world. The podcast, narrated by Sarah Koenig, explores the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an eighteen-year-old girl born in Korea and raised in the United States, and the trial and conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, a Pakistani American. While Serial’s experiment in investigative journalism aimed to solve any remaining mystery regarding what happened the day of Hae’s disappearance and murder, the podcast ultimately revolved around the main subject, Adnan. A crucial aspect of the podcast, and even more so its reception, has been the theme of Islamophobia as a source of potential bias in the 1999 judicial proceedings, and the othering of an American teenager as a foreigner on the basis of his religion and ethnicity.

Although Adnan Syed was born in the United States, had only lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and barely spoke a word of Pashto, both the prosecutors and the jury may have treated him as a Muslim Pakistani defendant. Serial specifically highlights a memo, addressed to the lead detectives, filed by the Enehey Group, about Islamic thought and Pakistani culture. The memo’s subject line explicitly indicates that the information provided was relevant to “the upcoming trial of Adnan Syed,” meaning that research about Pakistani law and culture seemed pertinent to investigating this Baltimore teenager. The memo, which mentions Shariah law, gender norms, veiling, and honor killings, suggests that the state’s theory of the case somehow involved the narrative of the violent and controlling Muslim man.

The “double-life” of an American teenager with Muslim Pakistani parents

While Serial fans across the country (and in several countries abroad) debated the credibility of the State’s star witness2 and the integrity of the Baltimore Police Department, Koenig struggled to understand if the man she grew so close with in prison, who agreed to do the podcast and adamantly proclaimed his innocence after seventeen years, could be a killer. If he is guilty of the crime, she and the thousands of other listeners pondered, then he must be a psychopath and a masterful liar and manipulator.

The podcast’s focus on Adnan’s character is not entirely different from the prosecutor’s theory of the case. The State charged Syed with first degree murder,3 arguing that the strangulation of Hae Lee was not a crime of passion but a calculated, premeditated act to restore the jilted lover’s honor. The prosecutors reasoned that Syed, as an intelligent honor roll student in the magnet program, and charismatic Junior Prom Prince, used his popularity and talent to manipulate those around him. He used this charm to get into his ex-girlfriend’s car that day, and to coerce his former friend Jay Wilds into helping to bury Hae’s body in a shallow grave.

Interestingly, Serial portrays the prosecution as highlighting inconsistencies and conflict in Adnan’s life resulting from his dual identity as a Muslim and an American teenager, using his second-generation experiences as evidence of a “double-life” and a deceitful character. Koenig describes the state’s case in the podcast’s first episode, “The Alibi,” which aired on October 3, 2014:  

The state’s case against Adnan went like this. He and Hae had been going out since junior prom. But Adnan wasn’t supposed to be dating at all. Adnan was born in the US, but his parents are from Pakistan. And they’re conservative Muslims- no drinking, no smoking, no girls, all that…  But even though Adnan and (his) buddies were Muslims, they were also, shall we say, healthy American teenagers who were going to do what teenagers do, so long as they didn’t get caught. So Adnan had to keep his relationship with Hae secret. The state used this against him in two ways. First, they argued, he put everything on the line- his family, his relationships at the mosque- to run around with this girl. So that when she broke up with him eight months later, he was left with nothing, and he was outraged. He couldn’t take it, and he killed her.  And the second way they used it, they said- look at what a liar he is, how duplicitous. He plays the good Muslim son at home and at the mosque, but look what he was up to.

Koenig reveals that she discovered the story after receiving an email from a woman named Rabia Chaudry, a close family friend of the Syed’s, and a Pakistani American herself, spearheading Adnan’s Legal Trust and the #FreeAdnan movement. Koenig’s interest is sparked by Rabia and her brother Saad’s outright rejection of the motive provided by the State, claiming that either of them could have been depicted as living a “double-life.” Saad says “if Adnan is guilty of anything, it’s of being a normal kid with immigrant parents” (Transcript of Episode 2 “The Alibi”). Saad continues to explain that “the prosecution had painted Adnan as a totally bipolar or a maniacal dual personality…I’m the same way… they could paint the same thing.” The voices of other second-generation Muslims in the podcast highlight both Islamophobia in the investigation, as well as a demonizing of the children of immigrant parents. This unique focus made me curious about audience reception among other self-identified members of the second-generation.

Literature Review

There appear to be few studies about the “double-lives” of other groups of second generation adolescents, and existing research is generally outdated and tone-deaf. One reason for this may be the prevalence of the model minority myth which described Asian American children and teenagers as studious, obedient and high achieving (Peterson 1966; Chang and Demyan 2007). Portes and Zhou (1992) developed the model of “Segmented Assimilation” in which the children of immigrants selectively acculturate to mainstream American society. This model seeks to explain how “model minority groups,” like Chinese and Korean communities, are perceived to maintain positive values from their “ancestral cultures,” and avoid assimilating into an American underclass characterized by poverty and delinquency.

Generational conflicts between foreign born parents and their second-generation children may involve tensions over acculturation. While parents hope that their children will be successful in the United States, some may fear that the native born will distance themselves completely from their origins, or become “out of control” American teenagers.  Perhaps the earliest study of intergenerational conflict between immigrant parents and second generation children was Thomas and Znaniecki (1927) which examined these conflicts as a catalyst for assimilation of Polish Americans. A more recent study, Zhou and Bankston (1998) revealed fears among Vietnamese immigrant parents that their U.S. born children were becoming overly “Americanized” and were succumbing to premarital sex and drug use. These fears or conflicts may be more pronounced among self-identified Muslim immigrant families in the United States due to the salience of religion in family identity and, as with other faiths, abstinence from consumption of alcoholic beverages, premarital sex and dating.

While parents may view underage drinking and dating as signs of American delinquency, law enforcement may view Muslim conservatism as a sign of deviousness. Given the scarcity of studies on the second-generation, there is nothing in the literature to date about the specific targeting of the children of immigrants that is unique from xenophobia towards all generations of immigrant communities in the United States. The criminalization of second-generation Muslims seems to both attribute behaviors of the individual to his parents’ foreign culture, while pathologizing the balancing act between the teenager’s culture, and the “old world” values of the parents. This means that when a Muslim-American is investigated for a crime, diffused cultural notions of Muslim violence, with an emphasis on the Middle East and the so-called Arab world, are conjured up and used to contextualize his behaviors. In other words, Muslim Americans are not immune to negative stereotypes surrounding Muslims abroad. Additionally, when a Muslim-American is charged with a crime, it may be interpreted as the result of internal conflict between Islamic faith and culture, and American freedom and diversity, leading to portrayals of a split-personality.  

Rochelle L. Terman, writing for the Muslim World Journal of Human Rights, looked at media response to honor killings in the West, as well as protest among Muslim diaspora communities over the racist implications of treating all domestic violence cases involving Muslim, Arab or South Asians as “honor killings.” Similar to my study, Terman used blogs and Internet sites to gauge reactions of Muslims in the West to well publicized cases of honor killings in mainstream media. Terman identifies the role of Culture Clash4 and Culture Talk5 in implying that the West is modern and without cultural baggage, while immigrant peoples have backwards cultures and traditions. This allows for the behavior of ethnic minorities in the United States who are born to immigrant parents to be viewed as the product of a conservative foreign culture. Terman studied 103 reported cases of honor killings and found that “whenever the honor killing occurred in the West, the media report made explicit the race, ethnicity, nationality, and/or religion of those involved” (Terman 2010: 17). This supported the charge that honor killing remains “most often connoted with Arab and/or South Asian immigrants in the West, particularly the Muslim community” (Terman 2010: 17-18).

The logics of Culture Clash and Culture Talk may also contribute to the crystallization of the category “Muslim” as a monolithic group (Bozorgmehr, Ong, and Tosh 2016; Min 2010).  Sides and Gross (n.d.) found that Americans do not distinguish between Muslim Americans and Muslims abroad, and view both groups as equally violent and untrustworthy. Ghavami and Peplau (2013) studied perceived gendered cultural stereotypes about different ethnic groups. The study revealed that among the top fifteen attributes listed for Middle Easterners were “Oppress women,” and “Muslim,” with Middle Eastern women associated with traits such as “quiet,” and “oppressed” and Middle Eastern men as “sexist.” Though not positioned at the top of the list, the study found that Middle Eastern men were uniquely associated with the attribute “suspicious.”

Although Adnan Syed is not Middle Eastern, it is likely that the Baltimore jury, aware of his Muslim identity, and being exposed to “a lot of beards and a lot of traditional garb” at the bail hearing attended by busloads of community members from The Islamic Society of Baltimore, perceived the defendant as Middle Eastern (Transcript of Episode 10 “The Best Defense is a Good Defense”).  The logics of Culture Talk, and conflation of religion and culture, are both evident in the following interviews with jurors who voted to convict Adnan Syed: “I don’t feel religion was why he did what he did. It may have been culture, but I don’t think it was religion… in some cultures women are second class citizens and maybe that’s what it was,” and another who said “[in] Arabic culture men rule, not women. I remembered hearing that” (Transcript of Episode 10, “The Best Defense is a Good Defense”).

Methods

My approach to understanding audience reception by members of the second-generation was heavily influenced by Terman (2010) and her incorporation of blogs and internet sites as a legitimate way to gauge the reactions of people “on the ground” for whom there exist “few sources of public expression” (Terman 2010: 4). Terman further argues that despite the lack of standards6 in academia for analyzing blogs as a new form of media, they are “increasingly becoming a common space in which civil society and activists can engage in dialogue with one another” and are particularly useful for accessing minority perspectives.

In addition to using blogs and other internet sites, my study looked at Reddit, a widely popular American discussion website. Reddit has an entire subreddit dedicated to Serial.  The Serial subreddit today has nearly 54,000 subscribed users (this nearly 3.5 years after the podcast aired its last episode, meaning that in 2014 the subreddit was even more populated), and thousands of different threads, or discussion forums. On the subreddit, I individually queried the terms “Muslim,” “South Asian,” “Double-life,” “American teenager,” “second generation,” and “psychopath” to narrow my sample of Reddit threads. I recorded any relevant comments from users who self-identified as members of the second-generation, or Muslim, and analyzed the content for self-identification with Adnan, and belief in innocence or unfairness of the outcome.  

 

Hypotheses

1. On Muslim American and second generation subjectivity on Serial:

I hypothesized that there will be many blogs and Reddit posts specifically about Serial’s portrayal of second-generation identity, highlighting the podcast’s narrative focus on both Muslim American identity and the lived experiences of the children of immigrants.

2. On responses to the podcast, and beliefs about the trial:

I predicted that self-identified second generation bloggers or commenters will identify with the narrative presented in Serial about the balancing act experienced by the children of immigrants. These podcast listeners will be more likely to identify with Adnan, perceive the role of Islamophobia, and communicate a belief in the unfairness of the trial.

3. On reactive ethnicity and the construction of second generation identity:

I hypothesized that self-identified Muslim Americans, and children of immigrants residing in the West, will display signs of solidarity and empathy. These audience responses will support the aspect of reactive ethnicity in which perceived hostility or discrimination yields responses of co-ethnic solidarity. However, I hypothesized that displays of solidarity will not simply reinforce ethnic ties (i.e. Pakistani solidarity) but will focus on a shared identity as the children of non-white immigrants in the United States. These responses will make “second generation” a salient feature of identity among bloggers and commenters.  

Results

I found several online magazines, blogs, and posts about Serial written by individuals who self-identified as second-generation, or as the children of immigrants, many of whom were South Asian and/or Muslim. Of the numerous blogs I encountered, the aspect they all shared was outrage over the prosecution’s theory of the case which interpreted Adnan’s behavior as the result of a deep inner conflict between his Pakistani culture (and Muslim faith), and his American teenage social life. As predicted, these blogs emphasized a sense of shared identity and lived experiences as the children of non-white immigrants. Instead of reinforcing specifically Pakistani American solidarity, the results demonstrated the salience of South Asian, and more generally, Asian American identity in audience response.  

One of the most interesting results came from a blog post by The South Asian Political Action Committee (SAPAC) at Tufts University. The SAPAC conducted their own survey7 about parent-child disclosure in Asian American and Pacific Islander households to gauge when adolescents and young adults decided it was necessary to lie or conceal information about their social life due to pressure or expectations from the family and community. Over 65% of respondents identified as members of the second generation, or the children of immigrants, like Adnan Syed. Two-thirds of the respondents reported lying or withholding information from parents in high school, especially about sexual activity or dating, time spent outside of school- referred to as “details of hangouts,” and drug and alcohol use.

The SAPAC’s blog directly addresses “the prosecution’s narrative of Adnan’s double life” and humorously quips that “Either Tufts’ student body includes disproportionately many Asian American psychopaths…or Adnan’s behavior was typical of a high-achieving young man navigating the dual pressures of his immigrant Pakistani Muslim family and American high school social scene.”8  This blog, like several others, suggests that the so-called double-life may not be limited to Muslim families, but may be a phenomenon relatable to many other groups of second-generation Asian Americans.

Aditya Desai, a native of Baltimore County himself, writing for The Aerogram9(an online magazine dedicated to South Asian perspectives across the globe) expresses frustration over the lingering “psychopath debate” that was allegedly emphasized by the prosecution, and reemphasized by Koenig’s narrative focus on Adnan’s character. He argues that “Children of immigrants are used to compartmentalizing their double lives… You tell your parents that you’re at a sleepover, when really you’re at the club all night. Apologies if I’ve outed our secrets, fellow brown young people.” This response supported my hypothesis that the solidarity would be shared specifically among the children of non-white immigrants, and further emphasized the salience of race, or identification as a racial minority, in the reactions to Serial.  

One commenter on the article with the username GSA further captures a sense of solidarity over second-generation identity in the podcast. GSA writes “One point which particularly resonated with me, a child of Indian immigrants who went to undergrad in Baltimore and high school in another Maryland county, is how much of a non-issue to me was Adnan’s double-life…. Not every American-born child of immigrants necessarily feels such a degree of dissonance between their two identities, does not experience a yawning gulf between the two sides of the hyphen (Pakistani-American.)” This response supports conceptualizing Adnan’s case as the criminalization of second-generation identity specifically, as opposed to more general xenophobia or islamophobia, because the prosecutors allegedly pathologized what they perceived to be extreme discord, or incompatibility, between the defendant’s culture and American freedoms of dating and sexuality.   

Similarly, Akhila Ananth and Vivek Mittal, in a response10 to Desai’s piece, further convey Serial’s emphasis on second-generation identity. They write “The critical feature of Serial is that in the process of probing Adnan’s double life, America got an unexpected study of Asian-American subjectivity. Koenig explored how Adnan adapted to his circumstances, family, hyphenated, and otherwise.” This result was particularly relevant to my study since it credited the podcast with offering insight into Asian-American subjectivity, suggesting that Adnan’s story was somehow representative of the experiences of other Asian-Americans, and that Serial’s coverage of Adnan’s family and community shed light on identity formation for members of the second-generation. I had not predicted references to pan-ethnic solidarity for groups like “Asian-American,” but this supported my hypothesis that self-identification with Adnan would not be limited to Pakistani Americans.    

Saziah Bashir & Diane White, writing for The Pantograph Punch11, a website in New Zealand dedicated to cultural commentary, express a similar sense of self-identification with the double-life dynamic. They write, “Where the prosecution case really falls flat for me is that assertion of Adnan’s duplicity, that his partying, drinking and dating while playing the good little Muslim kid at home indicated something sinister. Because what almost any good little Muslim kid could tell you is that most of us do this exact thing. We lie to our parents. We do it a lot.” They further explain, “all parents disapprove of or fear certain things their kids may do. Migrant parents, arguably, disapprove of more, because the tension between original and adopted cultures and how it blurs once-fixed boundaries, lines between acceptable and unacceptable public and private behaviour.”

Writing for a blog on the website Brown Girl12, an online magazine for and by South Asian women, staff members describe how their personal experiences as the children of immigrants relate to Adnan Syed’s story. Pia Chakrabarti writes, “My family is from India, a country with similar values and social norms…As a second generation South Asian American, I know that we all essentially lead double lives… We feel it is necessary to protect our parents from the many details of our lives that they may not approve of… This does not make a killer!” Here, once again, we see the salience of second-generation identity, as well as South Asian identity, in audience response. The context of these identities is communicated as a response to perceived discrimination, and the feeling that what happened to Adnan Syed could have happened to any of them.

Results from the Serial subreddit were more complicated, in part because of the quantity of posts and users. I have included only a few results that were particularly interesting, or seemed to best capture the tone and type of responses. Perhaps the most interesting result on the Serial subreddit was a thread from December 2015 entitled “State of the Subreddit [Survey Results]”13 in which user drnc used SurveyMonkey to analyze the demographics of users on the discussion forum. The presence of this kind of meta-analysis on the Serial subreddit is further testament to the popularity of the podcast, and the prominence of this web forum as the main community for Serial fans.  

The survey14 revealed that out of the 1,000 respondents, only 119 reported that they were the children of immigrants (12.1%, compared to 3.6% that preferred not to answer and 84.3% which replied “no.”) The majority (58.4%) of respondents identified as “irreligious,” with only 1.2% identifying as Muslim. As predicted, most users did not believe Adnan should have been found guilty (68.6%, compared to the 21.9% who reported that the outcome was just.) The survey did not collect demographic information about race or ethnicity, but it is telling that the creators were specifically interested in second-generation status and religion, supporting my hypothesis that Serial as a cultural phenomenon made second-generation and Muslim identity the most salient features of the narrative. However, these results also indicate that the population I am most interested in, second-generation Muslims, make up only a small percentage of the subreddit.  

Regarding the “double-life” theory, there was an entire thread from October 2015 entitled “To everyone who still likes to use the Adnan was leading a double life card”15 with 89 replies. The original post was written by a 19-year-old who “grew up in circumstances extremely similar to Adnan’s.” User Bilalin writes, “When I got home from school I had to act like girls did not exist. I could not talk about any type of relationship I had with a girl at home, even if it was just a friendship…That’s just how it goes if you’re a Muslim kid… So don’t go throwing around that he was living two lives he must’ve been a killer shit.”

Discussion

As a continuation of post-9/11 media representations, Serial publicizes the potential negative effects of Islamophobia in criminal law, and challenges the “otherness” of a Muslim character by emphasizing his American qualities. Serial has proven itself to be extremely influential in both mainstream American culture for its critique of our criminal justice system, and among members of the second-generation, particularly the children of South Asian immigrants, and most especially Muslim Americans. As a podcast about a murder trial, Serial offers deep insight into the criminalization of Muslim Americans, and the unique construction of pathology for second generation identities.

As predicted, I found many blogs and Internet sites written by self-identified second generation South Asians or Muslims that personally relate to Adnan’s double-life and the extreme separation between social life and family life. Similarly, I found many posters on the Serial Subreddit who also self-identified as the children of immigrants, and often as South Asian or Muslim who expressed the same solidarity with Adnan’s experience, and outrage over the way his bicultural life experiences were criminalized by the prosecution to depict him as a deceitful and manipulative psychopath.

An interesting trend in the posts was the belief that the double-life is a common experience not just for South Asians, or Muslims, but for the children of all immigrants living in the United States. Future studies should elaborate on what makes the teenage and young adult experience different for the children of immigrants with regard to concealing social life from parents, and compartmentalizing faith and family, compared to all teenagers. As one blogger suggested, cultural notions about the separation between private and public behavior may contribute to differing parental expectations among foreign born parents.  For Muslim children of the second-generation, an added layer of complexity may be immersion in a faith-based community, which might make it more difficult to keep social life private.16  

Future studies should also consider the variable of gender in both parental expectations of second-generation youth, and audience response to the case of Adnan Syed. The literature suggests that there is a gendered double standard for the children of immigrants (not unlike the double standard in mainstream American society), and that girls face particular restrictions and community pressures (Zhou and Bankston 1998).  Similarly, it would be interesting to sample groups of first generation, and second generation Muslim parents to better understand the role of acculturation in shaping adolescent disclosure to parents, and to complement the teenage perspective with that of the parents.

Serial was unique in its representation of second-generation identity and contributed something new to media representation of minorities. Instead of simply reifying the model minority tropes of obedience and studiousness, Koenig portrayed the nuanced use of rule-breaking and cultural code-switching as a means of navigating life as an American teenager with strict immigrant parents. At its best, Serial allowed second-generation Muslims to speak for themselves and reveal the complexity of accommodating familial and cultural expectations, and generational conflicts of acculturation. My study may not definitively point to cultural norms among the children of Muslim immigrants in America, but it certainly reveals the role of Serial in transforming the discourse about both second-generation immigrant and Muslim American identities. Furthermore, this contribution to the body of research on the second-generation may highlight the role of popular culture in shaping ethnic identity, particularly in the context of perceived discrimination and ignorance.  

Notes
  1. As explained by Mehdi Bozorgmehr and Philip Kasinitz in their upcoming book Growing Up Muslim in Europe and the United States, most studies of the second generation do not examine Muslims as a distinctive group, even if the studies themselves include many Muslim majority countries. This is mostly because the federal government does not permit government agencies to collect data on religion, meaning that scholars seeking a larger data set must look at the parents’ country of origin as a proxy for “Muslim.” Other important contributions to the study of second generation immigrants include Portes and Rumbaut (2001) and Kasinitz et al. (2008).
  2. As explained by Mehdi Bozorgmehr and Philip Kasinitz in their upcoming book Growing Up Muslim in Europe and the United States, most studies of the second generation do not examine Muslims as a distinctive group, even if the studies themselves include many Muslim majority countries. This is mostly because the federal government does not permit government agencies to collect data on religion, meaning that scholars seeking a larger data set must look at the parents’ country of origin as a proxy for “Muslim.” Other important contributions to the study of second generation immigrants include Portes and Rumbaut (2001) and Kasinitz et al. (2008).    
  3. Recently, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals upheld the 2016 ruling to vacate charges against Syed on the basis of an Ineffective Assistance of Counsel claim which argued that his trial attorney’s failure to contact a potential alibi witness constituted deficient performance and prejudiced the outcome of the trial. The legal status of Adnan’s conviction is in flux, but this study is entirely unconcerned with questions of factual or legal innocence or guilt, and instead focused on audience reception among a specific demographic.
  4. From Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations which argued that contemporary global conflict stems from essential differences between Western and non-western cultures, not for historical conflict between Islam and the “West”, but “from the nature of the two religions and civilizations based on them” (Huntington  1996: 212).
  5. The use of Culture Clash logic in analyzing gendered violence which assumes “that every culture has a tangible essence that defines it, and it then explains politics as a consequence of that essence… culture (modernity) is said to be the dividing line between those in favor of a peaceful, civic existence and those inclined to terror” (Mamdani 2005).
  6. Not to mention the potential for appropriation of identities on the Internet, evident in the infamous “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog hoax in which a heterosexual American man pretended to be a lesbian Syrian women writing intimately about government suppression of the so-called Arab Spring protests. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/a-gay-girl-in-damascus-comes-clean/2011/06/12/AGkyH0RH_story.html?utm_term=.bfa7c48bcc4d for more information.   
  7. https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-LKW5BVL7/
  8. http://sapac.squarespace.com/blog/2015/4/3/serial-privilege-and-missed-opportunities
  9. http://theaerogram.com/serial-fail-south-asian-americans/
  10. http://theaerogram.com/response-critique-serial/
  11. http://pantograph-punch.com/post/saziah-bashir-di-white-serial
  12. http://www.browngirlmagazine.com/2014/12/relate-adnan-syed-serial-second-generation-immigrant/
  13. https://www.reddit.com/r/serialpodcast/comments/3x333w/state_of_the_subreddit_survey_results/
  14. http://imgur.com/a/LRSkw
  15. https://www.reddit.com/r/serialpodcast/comments/3q6190/to_everyone_who_still_likes_to_use_the_adnan_was/
  16. For more about the blurred lines between public and private behavior, see the seventh and eighth chapters of Zhou and Bankston (1998) in which the dense social network of co-ethnic neighbors reinforces cultural expectations, and provides a form of community surveillance for youth, making adolescent rebellion a somewhat public affair.
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Francesca Petronio is a student in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies track. Her research centers around parasocial interaction, popular culture, political economy of production and audience reception. She is particularly interested in television shows and podcasts that are popular among groups of ethnic, religious, or sexual minorities, and the construction and expression of identity in online spaces dedicated to those series. She would like to thank Professor Mehdi Bozorgmehr for his guidance in crafting this study, for his openness to working with interdisciplinary MALS students, and his eagerness to chat at GC receptions, IPA and cheese plate in hand.