Sample Syllabus

Islamophobia, Anti-Muslim Racism, and Culture


This course examines how Arabs, Muslims and South Asians have been constructed as a “race” within the context of empire. We will critically analyze racial and religious stereotypes and caricatures by foregrounding the rich and complex history of interaction between the “West” and the “Middle East.” While the course begins in the 7th century, the emphasis will be on popular discourse in the United States over the last half century. We will study films, news media images, television shows, and other ways in which our understanding of the Middle East is mediated. We go beyond the Middle East to also study how South Asians are now part of the composite Arab/Muslim/South Asian terrorist menace. We study the process by which Muslims and those who “look Muslim” have been turned into “terrorists”; we also explore how anti-black racism and anti-Muslim racism enable US empire building. Finally, we will address how sexism, imperialism, and racism articulate together.


Documentary: The Forever War: 20 Years After 9/11


Week 1: Medieval and Early Modern Images of Islam

Deepa Kumar, “”Islam” and the Muslim other in Medieval and Early Modern Europe,” Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012, First edition.

Maxime Rodinson, “Western Views of the Muslim world,” in Europe and the Mystique of Islam, New York: IB Tauris, 2006, pp. 3-45.

Screening: An Islamic History of Europe (BBC documentary available online at


Week 2: The Rise of Europe, Colonialism, and Orientalism

Deepa Kumar, “Empire, Race, Orientalism: The Case of Spain, Britain and France” Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (2nd edition), chapter 1, New York; Verso, 2021.

Edward Said, “Islam Through Western Eyes,” The Nation, April 26, 1980.

Screening: Edward Said on Orientalism (available at the Rutgers library at

Screening: Deepa Kumar, Gender, Culture and Empire: Imperial Feminism (


Week 3: The United States and the Middle East

Deepa Kumar, “The United States, Orientalism, and Modernization,” chapter 2, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, New York; Verso, 2021, Second Edition.

Omar Entman, “For Black Muslim Students: A Two Pronged Fight for solidarity,” PBS New Hour.

Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg, “Symbols of Islam, Symbols of Difference,” Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy, New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008.


Week 4: The “Clash of Civilizations” and the ideology of Islamophobia

Bernard Lewis, “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” Atlantic Magazine, September, 1990.       

Mahmood Mamdani, “Culture Talk; or how not to talk about Islam and Politics,” in Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, The Cold War, and the Roots of Terror, New York: Doubleday, 2004.

Deepa Kumar, The Ideology of Islamophobia, chapter 3, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.


Week 5: “Good” and “Bad” Muslims in Politics and Culture

Mahmood Mamdani, “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism.” American Anthropologist 104(3):766-775, 2002.

Deepa Kumar, “’Good’ and ‘Bad’ Muslims: The foreign policy establishment and the ‘Islamic threat,’” Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, chapter four, New York; Verso, 2021, Second Edition.

Jack Shaheen, “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 558, July 2003, 171-193.

Screening: Reel Bad Arabs (available at Rutgers library at


Weeks 6 and 7: Anti-Arab Racism and the Terrorist Threat

Nadine Naber “Introduction,” in Amaney Jamal and Nadine Naber, Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11, Syracuse University Press, 2008.

Steven Salaita, “Beyond Orientalism and Islamophobia: 9/11, Anti-Arab Racism, and the Mythos of National Pride,” CR: The New Centennial Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2006, 245-266.

Deepa Kumar “Terrorcraft: Empire and the Making of the Racialized terrorist threat,” Race and Class, 62 (2), 34-60, 2020.

Screening: Constructing the Terrorist Threat (available the library at


Week 8: Mediating the Iranian Revolution and the Hostage Crisis

Edward Said, “The Iran Story,” in Covering Islam: How the Media and Experts Determine how we see the rest of the world, New York: Pantheon Books, 1981.

Melani McAlister, “Iran, Islam and the Terrorist threat,” in Epic Encounters: Culture, Media and US interests in the Middle East since 1945, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.


Week 9: US Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Lila Abu-Lughod, “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and its Others.” American Anthropologist 104(3): 783-90, 2002.

Carol Stabile and Deepa Kumar, “Unveiling Imperialism: Media, Gender, and the War on Afghanistan,” Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 27, no. 5, September, 2005.


Week 10: The US, Israel, and Palestine

Norman Finkelstein, “Zionist Orientations” in Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, New York: Verso, 1995.

Ran Greenstein, Israel, Palestine and Apartheid. Insight Turkey, Vol 22, no 1, 2020.

Hatem Bazian, “The Islamophobia Industry and the Demonization of Palestine: Implications for American Studies.” American Quarterly 2015, 67(4), 1057-1066.

Screening: Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land


Week 11: US Foreign Policy from the Cold War to the War on Terror

Deepa Kumar, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, chapters 4 and 5.


Weeks 12 and 13: The War on Terror

Nadine Naber, “Look, Mohammed the Terrorist Is Coming!’: Cultural Racism, Nation-Based Racism and the Intersectionality of Oppressions after 9/11,” in Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11 (Syracuse University Press, 2008).

Deepa Kumar, “Terrorizing Muslims: Domestic Security and the Racialized Threat,” Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, chapter 6

Screening: The Feeling of Being Watched

Moustafa  Bayoumi, “The Race is On: Muslims and Arabs in the American Imagination” MERIP, 2010.

Evelyn Al-Sultany, “The Limits of Positive Representation,” in C. Riley Snorten and Hentyle Yapp (eds) Saturation: Race, Art and the Circulation of Value, MIT Press.


Week 14: Far Rightwing Islamophobia

Deepa Kumar, “The New McCarthyites,” Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, chapter 7.

Stephen Sheehi, “Duplicity and Fear,” in Junaid Rana and Sohail Dauletzai (eds)

With Stones in Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism, and Empire, University of Minnesota Press, 2018.

Screening: Selections from The Third Jihad (available online at and Submission.


For Additional Readings see the following two syllabi:

Islamophobia is Racism

Race, Islam, Empire


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