When Pakistanis Became Middle Eastern: Visualizing Racial Targets in the Global War on Terror

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay examines the incorporation of Muslim identities into the U.S. racial formation through the recent War on Terror campaign that has collapsed the boundaries of race, culture, and religion. The history of these categories of race-making are particularly vexing in the case of U.S. populations of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, broadly racialized as "Muslims." Used by the media, academics, and activists, the unwieldy categories of "Muslim," "Arab," and "South Asian" are collapsed to describe populations targeted for racial discrimination, violent hate crimes, and state policing. Although there is a slow awareness emerging of the differences in these categories, the process of merging them into the racialized figure of the Muslim is far more prevalent. As an example of this making of a Muslim racial formation in the United States, I argue that Pakistani migrants are simultaneously understood through the geographies of South Asia and the Middle East in the rubrics of U.S. popular culture that construct Muslims as Arabs and desis in a contiguous spatial and imagined history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBetween the Middle East and the Americas
Subtitle of host publicationThe Cultural Politics of Diaspora
EditorsEvelyn Alsultany, Ella Shohat
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780472069446
ISBN (Print)9780472099443
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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