Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Sociology (Applied), PhD

Committee Chair

Gast, Melanie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Christopher, Karen

Committee Member

Christopher, Karen

Committee Member

Best, Latrica

Committee Member

Marshall, Gul

Committee Member

Peteet, Julie

Author's Keywords

Race; Islamophobia; masculinity; belonging; social class; intersectionality


This dissertation is an examination of Arab and South Asian American men’s (1) experiences and perceptions of discrimination and belonging in two non-traditional immigrant destinations in the United States (U.S.) south, and (2) their performance of masculinities in response to Muslim women’s experiences with Islamophobia. I use intersectional theory, theories of race and racism, theories of gender, theories on belonging, and grounded theory to analyze 23 qualitative semi-structured interviews with Arab and South Asian men who live in one large city and one rural town in the U.S. south. I find that upper-, middle-, and working-class Arab and South Asian men dismiss and downplay personal experiences with Islamophobia, despite reporting a wide-range of these experiences. Social-class position shaped how these men downplayed these experiences. I argue that these patterns have important implications for how scholars studying racism in America should address the position of intermediary racial categories—which include Arab and South Asian Americans. I also find that Arab and South Asian men performed hegemonic masculinities when women were the subjects of Islamophobic encounters or when discussing their potential experiences with Islamophobia. Interviewees reported a desire to control women in their lives to protect them from potential Islamophobic perpetrators and celebrated times when they or people that they knew physically confronted Islamophobic perpetrators who were targeting their women family members. This flatly contrasts their dismissive responses to Islamophobia committed against themselves or other men and has implications for emerging scholarship on complicit masculinities and intersectional studies of Islamophobia. Lastly, I find that upper class Arab and South Asian men reported a strong sense of belonging and connection to the community in the rural town when compared to men from the larger city and middle- and working-class men from the rural town. I found that these men had an easier time drawing on their relationships as mostly medical providers to the surrounding community as compared to other respondents without an occupational status representing privilege and status in the community.

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