Canadian Arab Youth at the Border: Cultural Dissociation, Fear Management, and Disciplining Practices in Securitized Spaces

  • Melissa FinnEmail author
  • Jenna Hennebry
  • Bessma Momani


In this paper, we explore what Canadian Arab youth do to navigate border and travel transit sites. Arab youth are the focus for this study because they are a neglected demographic of research in ethnic studies, compared to the more copious studies on Canadian Arabs. Our research empirically investigates the struggles that this youth demographic faces, and the efforts they undertake to manage their marginalization. Some of these efforts involve practices of cultural dissociation, fear management, and self-disciplining through behavioral self-surveillance. Drawing upon an existing body of research that recognizes the highly fraught and securitized nature of air travel and border transfer, particularly for Arab/Muslim populations, we use the findings from focus groups conducted in Kitchener-Waterloo to theoretically situate some of the real struggles of Canadian Arab youth. As prominent racialized and securitized identities in the War on Terror (WoT), Arab youth are often forced, or feel that they are forced to perform their Canadian-ness to substantiate their innocence, and in some cases, this requires minimalization, or even erasure of part of who they are.


Canadian Arab youth Travel Mobility Culture Fear management Discipline Borders 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Balsillie School of International AffairsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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