Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

Ballin’ During the Global War on Terror: South Asian American Sporting Cultures and the Politics of Masculinity

Date: Thursday, April 12, 2018

Time: 4:30-6:00 PM

Location: Kohlberg 228

Ballin’ During the Global War on Terror: South Asian American Sporting Cultures and the Politics of Masculinity

Stanley Thangaraj, City University of New York

Stanley Thangaraj Poster


Instead of universalizing masculinity (Kimmel 2005; Connell 1995), this talk theorizes the politics of masculinity through the taken for granted realm of sport (basketball) and the strange racial figure of the South Asian in the U.S. South. In particular, Thangaraj theorizes how South Asian American men, Muslim Pakistani American men in particular, stake claims through their American-ness through their sporting practices of the quintessential American sport of basketball. Through their basketball practices of “cool,” “swag,” and “manning up,” the young South Asian American men challenge their shifting racializations as “terrorists” and “model minorities” during this time of the global war on terror. Thus, South Asian American men manage the politics of basketball masculinity in relation to the black- white logic, in relation to the Hindu-Muslim binary, and in relation to the foreigner-American binary. Sport offers a space for these young men to offer their own renditions of American masculinity while also using the same logic of their exclusion as the compass for national belonging. As a result, these young men exclude various “Others” at the moment they insert themselves into American masculinity.


Stanley Thangaraj

Stan Thangaraj is a Socio-cultural Anthropologist with interests in race, gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity in Asian America in particular and in immigrant America in general. He is a former high school and collegiate athlete and coach who considers sport a key site to understand immigrant enculturation, racialization, and cultural citizenship. He is contracted with New York University Press for his monograph Brown Out, Man Up! Basketball, Leisure, and Making Desi Masculinity. His key communities of study are South Asian Americans. He also has a contract with New York University Press for the co-edited collection Asian American Sporting Cultures. In May 2014, his other co-edited collection Sport and South Asian Diasporas will be out from Routledge. He looks at the relationship between citizenship, gender, race, and sexuality as critical to understanding diasporic nationalism. Prof. Thangaraj has two new projects. His first project examines how Kurdish American communities embody, negotiate, challenge, and manage U.S. Empire. Instead of juxtaposing Muslim Kurdish women as victim of Islamic patriarchy, he is interested in how women assert agency and form identities on the ground while challenging mainstream U.S. racializations of them. The second project explores the spatialization of race, class, and sexuality in the construction of the Civil Rights narrative at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. In this project, he looks at the relationship between celebrating Civil Rights history, the propping up of heterosexual black nationalism and social movements, and the gentrification that follows this discourse. Stan Thangaraj takes his intellectual inspiration from Women of Color Feminism and Queer Theory. Professor Thangaraj was awarded the “Comparative Ethnic Studies Award” from the American Studies Association.

This event is open to the public.

Sponsored by Sociology & Anthropology, Peace & Conflict Studies, Asian Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Islamic Studies, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility