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Tolerance and Risk: How U.S. Liberalism Racializes Muslims
by Mitra Rastegar
University of Minnesota Press, 2021
Cloth: 978-1-5179-0484-5 | Paper: 978-1-5179-0485-2

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK

How apparently positive representations of Muslims in U.S. media cast Muslims as a racial population

Portrayals of Muslims as the beneficiaries of liberal values have contributed to the racialization of Muslims as a risky population since the September 11 attacks. These discourses, which hold up some Muslims as worthy of tolerance or sympathy, reinforce an unstable good Muslim/bad Muslim binary where any Muslim might be moved from one side to the other. In Tolerance and Risk, Mitra Rastegar explores these discourses as a component of the racialization of Muslims—where Muslims are portrayed as a highly diverse population that nevertheless is seen to contain within it a threat that requires constant vigilance.

Tolerance and Risk brings together several case studies to examine the interrelation of representations of Muslims abroad and in the United States. These include human-interest stories and opinion polls of Muslim Americans, media representations of education activist Malala Yousafzai, LGBTQ activist discourses, local New York controversies surrounding Muslim-led public projects, and social media discourses of the Syrian refugee crisis. Tolerance and Risk demonstrates how representations of tolerable or sympathetic Muslims produce them as a population with distinct characteristics, capacities, and risks, and circulate standards by which the trustworthiness or threat of individual Muslims must be assessed.

Tolerance and Risk examines the ways that discourses of liberal rights, including feminist and LGBTQ rights discourses, are mobilized to racialize Muslims as uncivilized, even as they garner sympathy and identification with some Muslims. 


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