Muslim and Arab Americans and the Surveillance State

By Danielle Haque
Submitted to Session P4893 (What's Really New about the Trump Era for Arab and Muslim Americans?, 2017 Annual Meeting
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
This paper analyzes the historical, immediate, and continuing impact of the US surveillance state on Muslim and Arab Americans, immigrants, and refugees. Utilizing feminist and critical race theoretical frameworks, it examines how mechanisms of state surveillance are tied to systemic forms of discrimination with regard to gender, race, class, religion, sexuality, legal status, and nation of origin. Foregrounding recent events such as Trump’s January 27, 2017 executive order or “Muslim Ban”, documented plans to focus domestic Countering Violent Extremism programs exclusively on Muslims, and systems of identification and registry including the no-fly list, this paper works at the intersection of legal and surveillance studies, looking at the immediate, legal, and material impact on Muslim communities and individuals under the Trump administration. By analyzing the language of Executive Order 13769, CVE and Homeland Security program rhetoric, and legal registration systems, I look at how enhanced surveillance techniques on Muslim populations enact socio-political disciplines inflected by Christian-secular values of appropriate modern religious practices. I argue that recent policies enforce an exclusionary citizenry through racialized immigration policies, Islamaphobic political rhetoric, and the promotion of specific economic forms. It traces their emergence and departure from earlier Bush and Obama era policies that further normalized and consolidated the national surveillance state, as well as their interactions with policies that target other US populations. Finally, I look at how these mechanisms are being critiqued and co-opted as tools of performance in social and artistic frameworks.