Introduction

This reading resource pack provides a thematic overview of current academic research on Islamophobia in the United States in the form of peer-reviewed academic journal articles and books. This effort brings to light the wide range of research on Islamophobia produced in the last few decades. In doing so, the authors wish to highlight trends in knowledge production around this topic and draw attention to any areas in need of further development where contributions can be made.

While definitions of Islamophobia have been offered by a range of researchers, scholars, and community organizers grappling with the evolving nature of anti-Muslim sentiment around the world, the Haas Institute defines Islamophobia as “a belief that Islam is a monolithic religion whose followers, Muslims, do not share common values with other major faiths; is inferior to Judaism and Christianity; is archaic, barbaric, and irrational; is a religion of violence that supports terrorism; and is a violent political ideology.” As defined, Islamophobia forms the basis of an ideology that views Muslims as a threat to “Western” civilization. Furthermore, Islamophobia is contingent upon the construction and reification of a homogenized Muslim “other” who should be viewed suspiciously, scrutinized, dehumanized, and excluded from “Western” or “Judeo-Christian” societies.

Islamophobia is expressed in prejudicial views, discriminatory language, and acts of verbal and physical violence inflicted upon Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim. Islamophobia has manifested in a policing regime that engages in the profiling, surveillance, torture, and detention of people along racial/ethnic and religious lines and has justified the militarization of foreign policy as well as an unprecedented expansion of security apparatuses that impact all peoples.

As emphasized by the many readings cited in this reading resource pack, Islamophobia is not new. Rather, Islamophobia in the US is part of a deep-rooted demonization of Islam and Muslims that pre-dates the tragic September 11, 2001 attacks. Some scholars argue that Islamophobia is connected to “colonial empire building” which racialized and dehumanized Muslims, in order to justify the occupation of Muslim lands. In the US, Bernard Lewis’s 1990 article, “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” most notably introduced the argument that there was a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West. This set up of an “us vs. them” dichotomy between Islam and the West that has only intensified in the last few decades. Following the 9/11 attacks, this racialization and demonization of Muslims in the US has normalized Islamophobic rhetoric and resulted in organized, well-funded Islamophobia movements across the country and around the world.

The purpose of this publication to enhance the utility of existing academic research on Islamophobia in the United States for a wide range of stakeholders interested in challenging this global phenomenon. These stakeholders may include activists, civil rights organizations, community workers, counselors, students, researchers, and policymakers. In providing the community with a shorthand summary of publications about Islamophobia, we aim to categorize existing work, encourage a robust expansion of these debates, and establish a framework for the synthesis and summary of anti-Islamophobia research across the globe.

The Haas Institute has long believed that the frame of “othering and belonging” provides a critical perspective to build a more inclusive and equitable society. In response to the experiences of Muslim Americans and the Muslim community at large, we seek to counteract all forms of discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance to expose the power structures that generate them and ultimately foster pathways towards a more inclusive world.

As a part of the Haas Institute’s larger body of work that exposes and challenges Islamophobia, this reading resource pack identifies academic publications that document, critique, provide counter-narratives, and suggest solutions to Islamophobia in the United States and beyond.

The reading resource pack catalogs more than 430 citations on the study of Islamophobia in the US, organized under these 10 main themes:

1.    Theorizing the Field
2.    Politics and Foreign Policy
3.    Legal System and National Security
4.    Mainstream and Digital Media
5.    Othering, Discrimination, and Hate Crimes
6.    Gendered Dimensions
7.    Health and Community Well-being
8.    Geography and the Public Space
9.    Counter-Narratives and Strategies
10.  Young American Muslims and Belonging

In addition, this publication annotates three key readings under each theme, subjectively selected under three main criteria:

  • Frequently cited

  • Critical perspective

  • Recent perspective

In addition, reading recommendations are provided within each area, listed in alphabetical order.

This work is done utilizing the “othering and belonging” framework of the Haas Institute, which we believe provides a critical analytical lens in our research, advocacy, and policymaking efforts to build a more inclusive and equitable society.

In response to the experiences of Muslim Americans and the Muslim community at large, we seek to counteract all forms of discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance to expose the power structures that generate them, in order to ultimately foster a more inclusive world. The Haas Institute suggests this reading resource pack be used as a companion resource for training and education on the study of Islamophobia, and how to counter it.

In an effort to expand the geographical focus of this publication, the next edition of this reading resource pack will focus on documenting anti-Islamophobia research in the Asia-Pacific region.