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The Global War on Terror: Race, Gender, and Empire After 9/11


This research examines the ways in which race, gender, and capital structure the "War on Terror" by systematically unpacking the connections, and contradictions, in both the global and domestic arenas of US politics and representation of Muslims. The War on Terror is the most privatized war in the history of the US, which provides an important site of analysis to explore the burgeoning industry created and sustained by fear of terrorism. The scapegoating of Muslims as suspected terrorists allows for the uninhibited development and justification for the increasingly privatized Homeland Security State. This research draws upon both the lived experiences of 60 young adult Muslims in Los Angeles along with extensive archival data on Muslim discrimination, to provide a comprehensive overview of the racialized and gendered processes shaping the representation, oppression, and emergent identities of the Muslim diaspora. I situate their experiences within the context of three central dimensions of the War on Terror; state practices and policies, public discrimination and hate crimes, and ideological representations. My research further juxtaposes the imperial deployment of women's rights discourses in justifying the "War on Terror" abroad alongside the widespread infringement on Muslim women's civil liberties in the US diaspora. While Arab and Muslim American communities have been frequent targets of repression, I argue that gender significantly structures the post-9/11 backlash in qualitatively different ways for men and women. That is, Muslim men have been characterized as dangerous, violent, and highly suspect within the popular imaginary and much of Western media, which has lead to the sanctioning of civil and human rights violations, largely through detainment, deportation, and surveillance. In contrast, Muslim women are consistently portrayed as voiceless victims without agency, further invisibilizing their own lived experiences of systemic discrimination as well as the ways in which diasporic Muslim women navigate and resist such structures of exclusion.

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