American Muslim Groups as “Native Informants” of Neo-Orientalism: Essentialism, Reproduction, and Intellectual Manipulation

y Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director.

This paper originally appeared in Avicenna: The Stanford Journal of Muslim Affairs.

This paper seeks to show how U.S. Muslim organizations are inadvertently contributing to a new form of Orientalism by reproducing old tropes in their efforts to combat it. The paper begins by analyzing the discourse underlying two typical events experienced by American Muslims to draw out the nature of Islamophobia in narrative frames and images. It then traces the roots of Islamophobia to Orientalism and shows how American Muslim groups, as “native informants,” unwittingly contribute to neo-Orientalism through static images of Islam, reproduction, or intellectual manipulation, and concludes with implications of this argument for American Muslim representations of Islam.