Meet Amanda d’Urso, 2021 APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grantee

The American Political Science Association is pleased to announce the Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG) Awardees for 2021. The APSA DDRIG program provides support to enhance and improve the conduct of doctoral dissertation research in political science. Awards support basic research which is theoretically derived and empirically oriented.

Amanda d’Urso, Northwestern University

Amanda Sahar d’Urso is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University. She will defend her dissertation, In the Shadows of Whiteness: Middle Eastern and North African Identity in the United States, in June 2022. Her work investigates how politics informs, shapes, and maintains identities using the case of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) individuals in the US. In contrast to scholarship on how ethnoracial identities shape politics and political engagement, she shows that politics—including state institutions and societal perceptions—also shape racial and ethnic identities. The case of MENA individuals is particularly useful because this group has been legally classified as White since the early 20th century but has also experienced racialization from the mid-20th century onward. Her work invites us to problematize Whiteness along with studying an ethnoracial group that has hitherto not received much scholarly attention in American race and ethnic politics. The funds from the APSA DDRIG will be spent on a survey experiment with MENA participants in the US. This task is especially difficult to accomplish because most firms only collect racial and ethnic data using the US Census categories, which subsumes MENA individuals as White.

Amanda’s work also focuses on non-MENA, non-Hispanic White attitudes toward immigrants with co-authored work published in the Journal of Race and Ethnic Politics. She is also involved in scholarship on race and methodology. Prior to joining Northwestern University, she received her MA from the University of Illinois, Chicago and BA from the University of Virginia.


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