Evelyn Alsultany is a leading expert on the history of representations of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media.
Her research, teaching, and lecturing are driven by a commitment to bringing Arab and Muslim Americans into the broader conversation about racial politics in the U.S. In her lectures, she seeks to educate audiences on the history of stereotypical representations of Arabs and Muslims in the US media, its consequences as evident in public opinion and government policies, and alternatives to foster greater human respect and dignity.
She is the author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11 (New York University Press, 2012) that examines a paradox in an increase in positive portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media after 9/11 and a simultaneous increase in hate crimes and government policies targeting Arabs and Muslims. She shows that even seemingly positive images can produce meanings that justify exclusion and inequality.
Professor Alsultany is the co-editor of two volumes: Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging (Syracuse University Press, 2011) which won the Arab American National Museum’s Evelyn Shakir Book Award and Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (University of Michigan Press, 2013) which won honorable mention for the Arab American National Museum’s book award.
She has served as a consultant for Hollywood studios and independent filmmakers on how to better represent Muslim characters. Recently she co-authored the Obeidi-Alsultany Test to help Hollywood improve representations of Muslims. She hosts the podcast, “Muslims As Seen on TV.”
Professor Alsultany received a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2005. Since 2019, she has been an associate professor in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Prior to her appointment at USC, she taught at the University of Michigan for 13 years where she co-founded and served as the director of the Arab and Muslim American Studies, one of only three comparable programs in the world that focus on Arabs and/or Muslims in the U.S. context. At the University of Michigan, she was recognized for her contributions to campus diversity, mentoring underrepresented students, and program building through the Harold Johnson Diversity Service Award, the Arab Community Leadership Award, and the Arab Students Association’s Faculty of the Year Award. Professor Alsultany has won numerous awards for her undergraduate teaching, including the Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship, the highest teaching award at the University of Michigan. She has also been awarded prestigious fellowships such as the ACLS/Luce Program on Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs and a Fulbright Specialist Award to serve as a consultant in Qatar. In 2012, she was honored with a Jack G. and Bernice Shaheen Achievement Award.
Given the enduring salience of Islamophobia, she seeks to communicate her research to a wide audience within and beyond academia. In addition to being the guest curator for the Arab American National Museum’s online exhibit on Arab stereotypes (www.arabsterotypes.org), collaborating with colleagues at other universities to create the #IslamophobiaIsRacism online syllabus, and being selected for a TEDx talk, she is frequently contacted by journalists about current events and writes op-eds. Professor Alsultany maintains an active public speaking schedule, at the invitation of universities across the country and abroad.
Professor Alsultany is currently lecturing about how the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban” changed depictions of Muslims in Hollywood, creating more Muslim characters outside of the context of terrorism than ever before. She examines how the media approaches diversifying representations, the possibilities and limits to common approaches, and what is needed to successfully create a more equal future for all.