Deepa Kumar

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Deepa Kumar
Deepa Kumar, May 2006
Deepa Kumar, May 2006
OccupationAssociate professor of media studies and Middle Eastern studies, Rutgers University, writer
SubjectUS imperialism; war and the media; islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism; neoliberalism and class; gender and media
Literary movementAnti-war movement, Anti-Islamophobia, Occupy Wall Street

Deepa Kumar is an associate professor of media studies and Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University (New Jersey).[1] She earned her BA at Bangalore University (India), and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.[2] She is the author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike.[3]


Media Representations of Labor[edit]

Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike[edit]

Outside the Box (ISBN 0-252-03172-5, University of Illinois Press) looks at the need for a critical analysis of how labor struggles are presented and packaged by the corporate media—and how this bias can be counteracted—by examining the most successful national strike in recent years by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters against the United Parcel Service. Ron Carey the former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has praised the book calling it "A brilliant analysis of the UPS strike, its treatment in the media, and how the Teamsters were able to win public support. It offers valuable lessons, and is a must read for everyone in the labor movement" while the Journal of Communication has been quoted as saying "Not only a significant contribution to the field but also a practical guide to how organized labor can intervene and enact social change in a still severely compromised public arena."[3]

Writings on Islamophobia, Political Islam, and Empire[edit]

Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire[edit]

In August 2012 Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (ISBN 9781608462117, Haymarket Press) Kumar makes the case that the Bush administration's "war on terror" ushered in an era of anti-Muslim racism, or Islamophobia, after the events of 9/11. She argues that that tragedy did not create the image of the "Muslim enemy," and instead examines the 900-year historic relationship between anti-Muslim racism and the agenda of empire building. Beginning in the eleventh century and the context of the Crusades, Deepa Kumar offers a sweeping historical analysis of the changing views of Islam and Muslims in the West, examining the ways that ruling elites throughout history have used the specter of a "Muslim enemy" to justify their imperial projects.[4]

Danish cartoons[edit]

Following the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy which attempted to depict the Islamic Prophet Muhammed in a caricatural light, Kumar wrote an article against the publication of the cartoons titled 'Danish Cartoons: Racism Has No Place on the Left', where she argues that the left's criticism of Muslim outrage is actually a form of anti-Muslim racism.[5] Her article was read by tens of thousands and posted on websites around the world. It also attracted criticism,[6] and in response Kumar wrote another article in the Monthly Review, titled "Fighting Islamophobia: A Response to Critics".[7]

Green Scare[edit]

Kumar coined the term “Green Scare” (where green refers to the color of Islam rather than environment activists) to talk about the process of fear mongering analogous to the “Red Scare” of the McCarthyite period. This was in response to the media portrayal of the "homegrown threat" of Muslim Americans after a 2009 small increase in the number of Muslim Americans expressing support for extremist Islamists or carrying out attacks while she note that "there has been a steady and dramatic decline since 2004, with only a slight increase in this overall trend in 2009.”[8]

Political Islam[edit]

Kumar takes a historical approach to her analysis of the parties of political Islam.[9] She states that Islamist parties have risen to prominence over the last three decades of the 20th century for various reasons: “the active role played by the U.S. in posing Islam and political Islam as an alternative to secular nationalism and the left; persistent imperial intervention and domination; internal weakness that led to the decline of secular nationalist and various left parties, creating an ideological vacuum that Islamists were able to occupy; economic crises and its exacerbation under the neoliberal era, which present an economic opening for Islamists and their charitable networks.”[10]

Kumar argues that Muslim majority societies do not automatically produce religious political parties but that they are the outgrowth of particular historical factors. She argues that progressives should view these parties, when they oppose imperialist, as potentially deserving support of the left. She gives the example of Hezbollah in Lebanon, which with the popular support from Lebanese people fought back against Israel's invasion in 2006. But she says that this support should be limited and context-based stating that "we often find that Islamist groups are self-serving entities that are not principled anti-imperialists," and are not absolved of criticisms on reactionary, anti-feminist, or anti-gay political positions they may hold.[11]

Kumar has criticized the automatic designation of Islamist groups like Hamas as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) noting that it is a political party that has the support of Palestinians because it has taken up "the mantle of national resistance against Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands." While she critiques its "reactionary" politics and attitudes towards women as well as its policing of "immorality," she points out that it came to power through generally recognized free and fair elections in 2006. She argues that it is for the people of Palestine to decide who should govern them, not Israel or the US. [12]


  1. ^ Perspectives-School of Communication, Information and Library Studies Archived 2008-07-05 at the Wayback Machine, Rutgers University
  2. ^ School of Communication and Information 2013–2015, Rutgers University
  3. ^ a b Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike, University of Illinois Press, 2006
  4. ^ "Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire". Haymarket Press. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  5. ^ Kumar, Deepa (February 21, 2006). "Danish Cartoons: Racism Has No Place on the Left". Monthly Review.
  6. ^ The Danish Cartoon Controversy Archived 2011-10-04 at the Wayback Machine, The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, May 14, 2006
  7. ^ Kumar, Deepa (March 4, 2006). "Fighting Islamophobia: A Response to Critics". Monthly Review.
  8. ^ "Green Scare: The Making of the New Muslim Enemy". Common Dreams. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  9. ^ Pickard, Victor (2011). Media Democracy Deferred: The Postwar Settlement for U.S. Communications, 1945—1949. ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 1243597267.
  10. ^ Kumar, Deepa (2011). "Political Islam: a Marxist analysis". International Socialist Review. Center for Economic Research and Social Change (76). Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  11. ^ Kumar, Deepa (2011). "Political Islam: a Marxist analysis". International Socialist Review. Center for Economic Research and Social Change (78). Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  12. ^ Kumar, Deepa (January 21, 2009). "Behind the Myths about Hamas". Monthly Review.

External links[edit]