Amanda Sahar d'Urso
"A Boundary of White Inclusion: The Role of Religion on Ethnoracial Assignment"
The Government Department Presents: Amanda Saher d'Urso, Guarini Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Government-QSS, Dartmouth College
Bio: Dr. Amanda Sahar d’Urso is a Guarini Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College in the Department of Government and in the program for Quantitative Social Science. Her research details how Middle Easterners and North Africans (MENA) have been racialized throughout the 20th and 21st century, despite being legally classified as ‘White’. Her work is in press at Perspectives on Politics and has been published in the Journal of Race and Ethnic Politics, as well as on The Monkey Cage
Abstract: How do White Americans operationalize Whiteness? This paper argues religion, in conjunction with country of origin, alters how self-identified White Americans assign ethnoracial labels to other groups. To test the role of religion on White assignment, this paper uses the case of Muslims and Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans. Although MENA individuals are legally classified as White in the US, they are subjected to racialization and often conflated with Muslims. Using historical analysis of racial prerequisite court cases and a survey experiment, I find country of origin and religion play separate, additive roles in racial assignment decisions, both historically and today. White assignment is constructed of both country of origin and religion. These findings also extend to perceived skin tone. This is important because many of the benefits that come from being White depend on whether others perceive an individual as White. Understanding the constitutive parts of Whiteness compels research to be specific when discussing White people and why some “White” people are excluded.