Communication ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation examines South Asian racialization in the United States after the 9/11 attacks. Using a comparative racialization framework, it proposes South Asian racialization as entangled with neo-orientalism, anti-Blackness, and settler colonialism which Andrea Smith (2006, 2012) has called the three pillars of white supremacy and undergirded by heteropatriarchy. An examination of the Oak Creek shooting and the discourses surrounding it demonstrated that neo-orientalism rendered Sikh Americans as interchangeable with Muslims by constituting them as 'Muslim-looking' (Ahmad, 2004), even as it coerced the former to instantiate their difference from Muslims through an aggressive performance of heterosexual patriotism and by reducing who is a Sikh along ethnic and gendered lines. Anti-Blackness as a central logic of policing produced Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian immigrant visiting his son in Alabama, as a 'skinny Black guy,' which exposed him to police violence. However, the response from the Indian American community avoided situating the attack as part of a concerted pattern of violence targeting Black people but instead sought refuge in discourses of respectability. Finally, the public and private personas of U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard illuminated how Hindu Americans were constituted as exemplary subjects as her Hindutva-inspired Islamophobia articulated with the War on Terror to intensify the militarization of Hawaiʻi while her "Hawai'ian style Hindu wedding" reinforced the association of the islands with exoticism. Together, these three sites demonstrate how South Asians become un/desirable whereby enduring forms of racism expose them to violence even as they become ventriloquists and exemplar subjects for the normative discourses. This project concludes by arguing for a coalition politics that reorients South Asian Americans towards other groups of color through a candid engagement with not only the shared history of oppression but also a grappling with how South Asians are implicated in the racialization of these other groups.




South Asian racialization, comparative racialization, orientalism, anti-Blackness, settler colonialism, intersectionality

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Ilia

First Committee Member (Chair)

Washington, Myra

Second Committee Member

Eguchi, Shinsuke

Third Committee Member

Tiongson, Antonio Jr.