Arabs, Muslims, and Arab Americans

Constructing an Evil Other

Authored by: Evelyn Alsultany

The Routledge Companion to Media and Race

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138020726
eBook ISBN: 9781315778228
Adobe ISBN: 9781317695837


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Arab and Muslim identities have long been conflated in U.S. government and media discourses, as well as in popular culture. Since Arabs and Muslims are usually represented as one and the same, it is difficult to write about representations of Arab Americans without also addressing representations of Arabs and Muslims. All too often, representations of Arabs and Muslims have served to racialize Arab ethnicity and vilify the religion of Islam. In this chapter, I review the entangled U.S. media representations of all three groups—Arabs, Muslims, and Arab Americans—noting the history of these representations, their various manifestations in current popular culture, and their enduring, harmful effects. Throughout, I use the notation “Arab/Muslim” not to perpetuate the conflation of categories, but rather to highlight and critique it.

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