My Ethnography of the University (EUI) course 'Muslims in America' introduces undergraduate students to the racialisation of Islam and Muslims in the U.S. at large, and in the University in particular. In this article, I describe how an anti-racist pedagogy coupled with student ethnographic research can yield a rich learning process. Beginning with one of the key debates in the scholarship on Muslims in the United States, I introduce students to the productive ways in which a multiracial history of American Islam can inform their ethnographic research. Additionally, I elaborate the potential for student research to transform university policy. The University offers a valuable ethno- graphic site for the critical study of the history and place of Muslims in U.S. society, politics and culture.
A Comedic Film between History and Memory
This article reappraises Gérard Oury’s Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob (1973), a comedy about a bigoted Frenchman and an Arab revolutionary disguised as orthodox rabbis, by considering the film’s original historical context, its attention to traumatic memories, and its place inside French culture as a cinematic lieu de mémoire. Rabbi Jacob represented a comedic medium through which Oury addressed the serious themes of racism and antisemitism as he envisioned multicultural reconciliation between the French, Arabs, and Jews. Rabbi Jacob was inseparable from the history of Jews in France, their deportation during the Second World War, and the postwar acceptance that being Jewish was compatible with integration into France. At the same time, Rabbi Jacob portrayed Arabs as a series of (post)colonial stereotypes leading one pro-Palestinian supporter to hijack an airplane in protest. Rabbi Jacob records an optimistic moment at the close of the trente glorieuses and continues to serve as a source for narratives on philo-Semitism, tolerance, and anti-racism in France.
Joel S. Kahn
In these remarks on race in Malaysia, I wish to engage the popularly held belief that racism in Malaysia is a legacy of colonialism. I will instead address the way racializing beliefs and practices in the Malaysian context are better understood in the context of processes of modern state- and nation-building during the period of so-called organized modernity, processes that were at work in both colonial and non-colonial settings. This explanation at the same time provides for a more effective resolution of what might otherwise appear to be a genuine paradox, namely, the fact that racism and anti-racism appear always to co-exist in the Malaysian context. I will deal with this sense of paradox historically by problematizing the most widely accepted explanation for the racialization of contemporary Malaysian society—that it is the legacy of Malaysia’s colonial past. Subjecting the argument for colonial exceptionalism to critical scrutiny clears the way for better explanations of the apparent persistence of racializing discourses and practices in post-colonial conditions, at the same time casting doubt on the effectiveness of the kinds of universalizing anti-racist practices and movements that characterize our times.