This project is broadly concerned with the invocation and practice of state ‘security’ as a gendered and racialized technology of control. While ‘security’ is most commonly associated with the practice of delineating and protecting borders, we examine how the populations living under expanding forms of security, surveillance, and policing interpret and contest these techniques of power. We look back at the entangled histories of securitized governance in the (post)colonial world, and beyond the lens of the state to the transnational circulation of surveillance and policing techniques and institutions. We examine how certain populations emerge as objects of government, and consider the forms of knowledge production that enable this.

The consequences of heightened state security manifest not only in the domain of politics, narrowly conceived, but across social, cultural, gender, and economic realms. Arrests, disappearances, torture, and the use of informants have a destabilizing effect on communities, and have led to the reconstitution and reorganizing of social relations. Family relations and behaviors, as well as sexual liaisons, are also impacted by security discourses and practices.  Struggles over “traditional norms” come to the fore, with some masculine and feminine ideals re-inscribed.  Since security experts often see gender as the realm of unchanging “tradition,” these effects are often not addressed or understood, and often may be relegated to unintended consequences.This cross-disciplinary project examines the ways religious minorities and targeted religious groups re-shape their social, political, and gendered subjectivities under conditions of state-led surveillance and militarism. We focus on specific regions for our case studies: South Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and North America. Examples of politically vulnerable religious minorities include Sikhs in Punjab, particularly in the 1980-90’s insurgencies, Muslims in India and Kenya, Muslims and Christians in Israel, and Sikhs and Muslims in the US impacted by policies aimed at preventing “terrorism.” Since some of these religious minorities are often identified by states as contributing to radicalization and terrorism, they bear the brunt of counter-terror security and surveillance projects.

From militarized borderlands to urban policing, the project is attentive to local, regional, and transnational histories of state power. Our intent is to shed light on how state surveillance and security impacts the lives of men and women in religious minority communities, altering gender roles, perceptions of citizenship, and notions of political and religious agency.


For more information about Mohamad Hafez, whose work is featured here, please visit: