Racing Religion
by Moustafa Bayoumi

[March 5, 2004]


This paper investigates the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's program of "Special Registration" as an instrument of racial formation. As part of the Bush administration's "war on terror," the Department of Homeland Security required men and boys over the age of 16 from a select group of mainly Muslim-majority nations to undergo "special registration," an arduous interview process that resulted in almost 14,000 deportation proceedings.

By historicizing the special registration program to prior Asian exclusion laws and legal decisions, and by theorizing race as a concept and as a construct, this paper argues that the Special Registration program in effect creates a "race" out of a religion. The paper concludes by describing the political function of race in a time of war and by proposing that "whiteness" in the United States is premised by (among other things) a nationalist notion of Christianity.






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