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The Citizen and the Terrorist

26 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2002 Last revised: 10 Aug 2012

Leti Volpp

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: August 10, 2012


Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there have been more than one thousand incidents of hate violence reported in the United States. How do we understand the emergence of this violence in a context of national tragedy? What are the seeds of this violence, and how has the political climate following September 11 allowed them to grow? Of course, there are no easy answers to these questions. This Article suggests that September 11 facilitated the consolidation of a new identity category that groups together persons who appear "Middle Eastern, Arab, or Muslim." This consolidation reflects a racialization wherein members of this group are identified as terrorists and disidentified as citizens. The stereotype of the "Arab terrorist" is not an unfamiliar one. But the ferocity with which multiple communities have been interpellated as responsible for the events of September 11 suggests there are particular dimensions converging in this racialization. The Article examines three: the fact and legitimacy of racial profiling; the redeployment of Orientalist tropes; and the relationship between citizenship, nation and identity.

Keywords: nation, identity, orientalism, race, citizenship, terrorism, profiling

Suggested Citation

Volpp, Leti, The Citizen and the Terrorist (August 10, 2012). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 49, June 2002. Available at SSRN:

Leti Volpp (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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