Between Arab and White

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Friday, April 29, 2022

1:00 pm


Open to the Public

Presented by the Race and the Middle East/North Africa Mellon Sawyer Seminar, Sarah Gualtieri will discuss her new book with Stanley Thangaraj

Admission Price



Online registration required to participate via Zoom

This multifaceted study of Syrian immigration to the United States places Syrians— and Arabs more generally—at the center of discussions about race and racial formation from which they have long been marginalized. Between Arab and White focuses on the first wave of Arab immigration and settlement in the United States in the years before World War II, but also continues the story up to the present. It presents an original analysis of the ways in which people mainly from current day Lebanon and Syria—the largest group of Arabic-speaking immigrants before World War II—came to view themselves in racial terms and position themselves within racial hierarchies as part of a broader process of ethnic identity formation.

Sarah M.A. Gualtieri is Professor in the Departments of American Studies and Ethnicity, and History and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Middle East Studies at the University of Southern California. Her research and teaching bridge several fields, notably Middle East Migration Studies, Arab American Studies, and Critical Ethnic Studies with a particular focus on questions of race, gender, and power. Her first book, Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora (University of California Press, 2009) examines the history of Arab racial formation in the United States with a particular focus on the problematic of “whiteness.” It traces how Arabs came to be officially classified as white by the U.S. government, and how different Arab groups interpreted, accepted, and contested this racial classification over the course of the 20th century. Gualtieri’s second book, Arab Routes: Pathways to Syrian California was published by Stanford University Press in 2020.  The book uncovers the stories of Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian migrants in Southern California, focusing on connections to and through Latin America and the multiethnic solidarities that emerge from them. Arab Routes won the Arab American Book Award and the Alixa Naff Prize in Migration Studies.

Stanley Thangaraj is an Associate Professor of Anthropology, Gender Studies, and International Studies at the City College of New York (CUNY).  His interests are at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship.  He studies immigrant and refugee communities in the U.S. South to understand how they manage the black-white racial logic through gender and the kinds of horizontal processes of race-making.  His monograph Desi Hoop Dreams: Pickup Basketball and the Making of Asian American Masculinity (NYU Press, 2015) looks at the relationship between race and gender in co-ethnic-only South Asian American sporting cultures.  He has published in Ethnic and Racial StudiesSouth Asian Popular CultureAmeriasia, and has co-edited several special issues and books.  His newest research is on Kurdish America, which received the 2015 American Studies Association “Comparative Ethnic Studies” award and has published an article in American Anthropologist titled “We share the same ancestry: US Kurdish Diasporas and the aspirational and ascriptive practices of race.”  He engages with the ways that diasporic Kurds in the United States evoke the category of “Indo-European,” “Aryan,” and “woman” to talk about nation-state violence, offer counter-narratives to state histories, bind Kurdish-ness in relation to ethnic others, racialize other communities, and manage the global war on terror.