Date of Submission

Spring 2018

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Political Studies

Project Advisor 1

Christopher McIntosh

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The Census Bureau has been testing a new category called MENA for the 2020 census that would better describe the Middle Eastern and North African population in the United States, but in January of 2018, the agency announced that the category requires further research. In this work, I connect the development of a MENA identity category to historical events, sociological theory, current politics and public concerns related to the following questions: What are the social and political implications of including a MENA category on the U.S. census? What does the movement to add a MENA identifier to the census tell us about the conceptualization of Middle Eastern and North African identity in America? To respond to these questions, I conducted in-depth interviews to get the data that cannot be captured by quantitative research methods: how people of Middle Eastern and North African descent experience the task of navigating U.S. standardized race and ethnic categories. As a result of this study, I find that the MENA category is not only a case of correcting outdated racial classification, but also a reflection of social and political issues in our country today, including those of privacy, discrimination, and freedom of expression.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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