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Gendered Racialization: State Led Surveillance of Muslim American Men and Women in US Airports

Sat, August 12, 4:30 to 6:10pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 513E

Abstract

On September 11th, 2001 America experienced the largest-ever terrorist attack on its own soil. The resulting declaration of the “War in Terror” in the aftermath of the attacks brought on sweeping changes to the United States government’s domestic and foreign policy with regards to criminal justice and national security. The passing of the USA PATRIOT Act after 9/11 increased the state’s investment in surveillance. In this talk I explore how surveillance is not colorblind, but unfairly targets Muslim bodies. I show how Muslim Americans are subjected to racialized surveillance guided by gender, which is the monitoring of certain bodies by relying on racialized cues such as Islamic religious signifiers, in both an institutional context by the state and a social context by their neighbors and co-workers. For this talk, I show how Muslim American men and women are surveiled by the state in US airports because of their religious identities. Muslim American men were on a Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) list and Muslim American women who wear the hijab were subjected to routine stops and searches at the security gate, demonstrating how gender guided how they have been racially profiled. The public display of surveillance in airports racializes Muslim Americans as terrorists in front of their fellow citizen. Consequently Muslim Americans are denied privileges associated with citizenship, such as being viewed and treated as a loyal member of society, when they are routinely subjected to hyper surveillance and racialized because of their religious identity.

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