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Vol. 8 No. 1 (2022): Enough is Enough!

Khalas!: Institutionalized SWANA Erasure, Resilience, and Resistance In Higher Education

October 25, 2021


The question of SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) diasporic identity formation has been widely debated in area studies, ethnic studies, and the burgeoning field of Arab American Studies with scholars such as Sarah Gualtieri (2009), Nadine Naber (2012), and Neda Maghbouleh (2017) arguing that people of SWANA descent are racial minorities even though the U.S. government classifies them as white.  However, these works have not adequately addressed SWANA racialization in the context of higher education following 9/11.  This co-authored paper closely examines institutionalized SWANA erasure from the shared intersectional perspective of one faculty member, one graduate student, and two undergraduate students at a California State University campus in Southern California.  Specifically, in this co-authored paper, we draw on our individual and collective co-organizing experiences to illustrate (a) the persistence of specific structural inequities that SWANA heritage people face in the academy, (b) the multilayered impact of these educational barriers, and (c) our wide range of ongoing activist responses to them.  We say “khalas!” (enough!) to systemic oppression and argue that the ultimate antidote to institutionalized SWANA erasure is solidarity within and between marginalized subjects at every level of academia in the service of anti-racist education.  In conclusion, this co-authored paper uplifts SWANA resilience and resistance in California’s most diverse public university system to shed new light on the understudied issue of how higher education perpetuates SWANA racialization.