The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race
September 2017 | Stanford University Press
"The Limits of Whiteness is cutting-edge scholarship at its best. Beautifully written and insightfully researched, it engages discussions of race and racialization of Iranian Americans with unprecedented depth and rigor. This is essential reading for those who care about the fraught and capacious legacies, and afterlives, of Middle Eastern and American racial projects." -- Sarah Gualtieri, Associate Professor, University of Southern California; author of Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian Diaspora
"In this brilliantly designed, beautifully written, and persuasively argued book, Neda Maghbouleh demonstrates that Iranian-Americans inhabit a complex and contradictory relationship to race. They find themselves living at the limits of whiteness, considered to be not white enough for some purposes but too white for others. Her evidence, ideas, and arguments make significant and lasting contributions to our understanding of whiteness as a social construction. The vivid and poignant portraits of the lives of second-generation Iranian Americans that form the evidentiary base of this brilliant book reveal whiteness to be a fickle and volatile category, an ever shifting entity shaped by political, cultural, linguistic, and religious practices that initially might seem to have little to do with race."
-- George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies & Sociology, UC Santa Barbara; author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness
Back Cover Copy
When Roya, an Iranian American high school student, is asked to identify her race, she feels anxiety and doubt. According to the federal government, she and others from the Middle East are white. Indeed, a historical myth circulates proclaiming Iranians to be the "original" white race. But the treatment Roya and her family receive in American schools, airports, workplaces, and neighborhoods—characterized by intolerance or hate—proves that she is not white enough. In The Limits of Whiteness, Neda Maghbouleh offers a groundbreaking, timely look at how Iranians and other Middle Eastern Americans move across the color line.
By shadowing more than 80 young people, and drawing on neglected historical and legal evidence, Maghbouleh captures the unique experience of an immigrant group trapped between legal racial invisibility and everyday racial hyper-visibility. Her findings are essential for understanding the unprecedented challenge Middle Easterners now face, and their potential reclassification out of the "white" box. Maghbouleh tells, for the first time, the compelling, often heartbreaking story of how a white American immigrant group can become brown, and what such a transformation says about race in America.
The book can be pre-ordered directly from Stanford University Press and Amazon.com. If you're considering the book for course adoption, please drop me a line! I would love to discuss the possibility of Skypeing into your classroom for a guest lecture or Q&A to support your work with students.