Nooshin Sadeghsamimi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9928

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Sadeghsamimi, Nooshin (Pennsylvania, U. of) "Who Counts? The Politics of Race-Making in Iranian American Advocacy "

Community organizations and activist groups with roots in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have pushed for the U.S. Census Bureau to add a new category since 2003, first for the 2010 and now for the 2020 census. This project investigates how the racialization of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa has changed in the post-9/11 American context by examining campaigns around census recognition for Iranian immigrants to the United States. My research is an ethnographic inquiry into how residents of the US originating from the countries of MENA are officially classified as “white” by the federal census bureau even as they are subjected to forms of surveillance, exclusion, deportation, and everyday discriminations which would suggest their actual status as racial others. I take the lobbying and organizing work of National Iranian American Council (NIAC) around the census as a case study of the broader phenomenon of political recognition for ethnic and racial immigrant minorities from the Middle East and North Africa in the United States. Through ethnographic work with NIAC, I will trace different strategies that MENA communities, and NIAC as an institutional embodiment of one community, pursue to ensure they are counted by the census.