Zareena Grewal

Zareena Grewal's picture
Associate Professor of American Studies, of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, and of Religious Studies

Zareena Grewal is a historical anthropologist and a documentary filmmaker whose research focuses on race, gender, religion, nationalism, and transnationalism across a wide spectrum of Muslim communities in the US and in the post-colonial Middle East and South Asia. Her first book Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority (NYU 2013) is an ethnography of transnational Muslim networks that link US mosques to Islamic movements in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan through debates about the reform of Islam. Her first film, By the Dawn’s Early Light: Chris Jackson’s Journey to Islam, examines the racialization of Islam and the scrutiny of American Muslims’ patriotism long before September 11,, 2001and was nationally broadcast on the Documentary Channel. Her second film for television, Swahili Fighting Words, is a collaboration with anthropologist Yunus Rafiq and traces the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and diasporic identity politics through poetry battles and Bongo Flava, a local genre of hip hop in Tanzania. Her new book project explores the issue of religious tolerance by tracing the range of meanings the Quran has for Americans in the context of the post 9-11 anti-Muslim political climate and the War on Terror. Americans’ positive and negative representations of the Quran loom large in contemporary debates about religious tolerance, in domestic debates about the limits of tolerance for religious minorities (Muslims) as well as debates about American global influence in which the US government aims to make Muslims abroad more tolerant.