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A scholar of the Middle East asks: Is 'Homeland' still racist?

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(L-R) Patrick Sabongui as Reda Kazem & Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND (Season 6, Episode 02). - Photo:  Jo Jo Whilden/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  HOMELAND_602_0131.R
JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME
Patrick Sabongui as Reda Kazem and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in "Homeland."

The HBO series has a troubling history in its depictions of Islam and Muslims, but it seems to be changing course in the era of Donald Trump,

As the sixth season of “Homeland" comes to a close on April 9, one close observer dissects signs that the show is uncomfortable with its history of perpetuating Islamophobic stereotypes. 

The series that stars Claire Danes as CIA agent Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as her mentor, Saul Berenson, has always found its drama in America’s war on terror. At the same time it's been called out by critics for racism. In 2014, The Washington Post dubbed it “the most bigoted show on television.”

Brian Edwards is professor of Middle East Studies and American Studies at Northwestern University and author of "After the American Century: The Ends of U.S. Culture in the Middle East." He posits that in the era of Donald Trump, the producers of "Homeland" are no longer comfortable with the show's "status as a mirror on America’s doings abroad and as a mouthpiece for nativist anxieties about Muslims at home." 

He wrote an essay for the L.A. Review of Books titled, "Moving Target: Is 'Homeland' Still Racist?"   which he adapted with The Frame into an audio commentary (play below). 

Brian T. Edwards is Crown Professor in Middle East Studies and professor of English, comparative literary studies, and American studies at Northwestern, where he is also the founding director of the Middle East and North African Studies Program. He is author of "Morocco Bound: Disorienting America’s Maghreb from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express" (Duke, 2005), "After the American Century: The Ends of U.S. Culture in the Middle East" (Columbia, 2016; paperback 2017), and essays and articles in a range of publications, including Salon, The Believer, Public Culture, McSweeney’s, American Literary History, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Follow him on Twitter

"Homeland" airs Sunday nights on Showtime.

 

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