Thinking Twice: Uses of Comedy to Challenge Islamophobic Stereotypes

Zara Maria Zimbardo


This research and writing is presented as a “pre-curriculum”, containing theoretical frameworks within which antiracist educators may apply their talents and sensitivities towards opening dialogue and critical exploration of the functioning of Islamophobia. Resistance to sustained examination of dominant Islamophobic stereotypes in this time of ongoing military aggression towards Muslim populations internationally and racial and religious discrimination domestically, poses exceptional challenges.Entrenched media representations, and political discourse on both right and left tend towards demonization at worst or flattening and invisibilization at best.Oftentimes dedicated, sophisticated facilitators who are immersed in anti-oppression curriculum and anti-racism work in particular, share that they “hit a wall” when it comes to Islam and Islamophobia, or express a distancing lack of knowledge. This paper poses the inquiry: How can political humor and social justice comedy effectively open up greater curiosity, deeper engagement and interrogation of Islamophobic and anti-Arab narratives, and illuminate the deployment of stereotypes with a critical media literacy lens? Strategic incorporation of comedic “texts” offers a form of epistemological inquiry that can surface and problematize what is “known”. As diverse comic artists employ humor as educational bridge-building outreach, antiracist educators can in turn draw from this prolific material as pedagogical tools.


Race; Class; Religion; Politics; Privilege; Oppression; White Supremacy; Education; Teaching; Research; Tools; Strategies; Youth; College

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