Being Middle Eastern American: Identity Negotiation in the Context of the War on Terror

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Using in‐depth interviews with naturalized U.S. citizens and immigrants as well as auto-ethnographic data, the author examines the stigma management strategies Middle Eastern Americans deploy, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. He applies the concepts of interpretive practice and accounting to narratives of disrupted encounters in which Middle Eastern Americans were prompted to explain their identities, and classifies the stigma management strategies this group utilizes into five types of accounting: humorous, educational, defiant, cowering, and passing. This article evaluates the strengths and drawbacks of each accounting type for combating stigma and discusses how these findings inform existing scholarship on the social construction of deviant identities and their management in everyday life.