Investigative journalist Andrea Elliott puts a human face to a wide array of topics, from child poverty to Muslim life in America. Her series on homelessness (soon to be a book) won the George Polk Award, and prompted the City of New York to remove more than 400 children from substandard shelters. Previously, her series “An Imam in America” earned her a Pulitzer Prize.
Elliott’s recent five-part series, Invisible Child, examined homelessness through the lens of an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl, and helped reignite a conversation about the dire state of poverty in America. Elliott is also a distinguished chronicler of Muslims in America. Gaining unparalleled access to the nation’s Muslim communities, her stories have explored the travails of a young Egyptian imam in Brooklyn, the challenges of Muslims serving in the U.S. military, and the simmering conflicts between Muslim immigrants and African-American converts to Islam. Her stories broke new ground in the study of radicalization, illuminating why a subset of young western Muslims have taken the militant path.
“Through study and conversation, persuasion and persistence, Elliott achieved an intimate, tough-minded exploration of the lives of immigrant Muslims after 9/11...that has opened up a hidden world to readers.”— New York Times
Elliott’s coverage of Islam in America earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2007, along with many other awards, and is featured in Best Newspaper Writing of 2007 and Islam for Journalists. Her cover story on suicide bombers in Morocco won an Overseas Press Club award. In their citation, the judges wrote that Elliott’s “account, beautifully written, provides an unparalleled look into the making of terrorists and is a reporting tour de force.” Part of the Investigations team at The Times, Elliott has appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air and Talk of the Nation, CNN, and the BBC.
One Decade, Many Lessons Islam in a post-9/11 America
More than a decade after 9/11, American Muslims are confronting a stark new reality: mounting opposition to the construction of mosques, congressional hearings into the radicalization of Muslim youth and rising hate crimes against Muslims. Americans hold a less favorable view of Islam today than even after the attacks. What happened?
To answer this question, Andrea Elliott transports her audiences into the little-known world of American Islam—a community in search of itself. As terrorism in the name of Islam endures, Muslims in America are engaged in an urgent quest to reclaim their faith. At the same time, they must reckon with widespread government surveillance and persistent media coverage, driven by a powerful, grass-roots movement that routinely characterizes Muslims as untrustworthy and dangerous.
Elliott mixes gripping, human anecdotes with careful analysis to paint a nuanced and unforgettable portrait of today's Muslim Americans and their opponents. Drawing on award-winning reporting, she illuminates the key themes of the last decade through the stories of young Muslims at a crossroads: alienated teenagers seeking refuge in their faith, women mobilizing for progressive reforms, religious leaders striving to balance the strictures of Islam with the pressures of contemporary American culture. Elliott’s lecture traces the evolution of America’s Muslims—who they are and how they identify politically, socially and religiously. In the process, she explains what their struggles in America tell us about the broader crisis within Islam and its future in the West.