Crossing Borders and Managing Racialized Identities: Experiences of Security and Surveillance Among Young Canadian Muslims


  • Baljt Nagra University of Ottawa
  • Paula Maurutto University of Toronto



Canadian Muslims, Muslim identity, Race, Racial profiling, Surveillance, War on terror.


While it is widely acknowledged that Canadian Muslims are targeted at airports and borders, few studies have focused on their actual experiences of state surveillance practices. Moreover, little attention has been paid to how these experiences impact and shape identity formation and their understanding of citizenship. To address this gap, we conducted 50 in-depth interviews with young Canadian Muslims living in Vancouver and Toronto. Our interviewees referred to being repeatedly stopped, questioned, detained, and harassed by security personnel. They felt that any evidence of their Muslim identity – name, country of birth, appearance, or clothing – makes them a target for extra surveillance, resulting in heightened fears about being stripped of their rights and a lack of ability to assert their religious identities. This paper explores the implications of racialized border practices on identity formation and citizenship depletion among Muslim Canadians.

Author Biographies

Baljt Nagra, University of Ottawa

Post-doctoral Fellow

Paula Maurutto, University of Toronto

Associate Professor Department of Sociology