Bessma Momani: Canadian Arab Youth Minimize or Erase Their Identities When Travelling

If you are an international traveller, it is likely you have had to empty a forgotten water bottle or abandon a deodorant at airport security. But have you ever had to regulate your behaviour to ward off other people’s fears, just to reach your destination? In “Canadian Arab Youth at the Border: Cultural Dissociation, Fear Management, and Disciplining Practices in Securitized Spaces,” an article published on 6 March 2018 in the Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2015 Foundation fellow Bessma Momani and co-authors Melissa Finn and Jenna Hennebry examined how the War on Terror’s racialized and securitized identities prompt Canadian Arab youth to “perform their Canadian-ness to substantiate their innocence” when travelling. This often requires them to minimize – if not erase – their identity. The fact that many Canadian Arab youth have come to see themselves as second-class citizens in border and travel transit spaces also reflects the extra-legal dimension of governmentality awarded to airport officials in North American national security systems, the authors concluded.

This article showcased Momani’s progress on her Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation current targeted-area-of-inquiry project, “Canadian Inclusion: The Case of Muslim Youth.” With this project, Momani hopes to shed light on Muslim youth’s experiences of integration in Canada. Targeted-area-of-inquiry projects are Foundation-supported research, projects, and events that address one of three areas: diversity, pluralism, and the future of citizenship; water, energy, and food security; or  Indigenous relations in Canada.


Bessma Momani is a 2015 Foundation fellow and a professor in the department of political science and the Balsillie School of International Affairs of the University of Waterloo. Read her article here.

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Bessma Momani

  • Director
  • Fellow 2015
Professor Bessma Momani is an expert on global economic governance issues, diversity in Canada, international affairs and Middle East politics.