Sarah Gualtieri

Associate Professor of History and American Studies and Ethnicity

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-5374
Office: SOS 165


Biographical Sketch

Sarah Gualtieri is Associate Professor in the Departments of History and American Studies and Ethnicity and former Director of the Middle East Studies Program.  Trained in Middle East Studies at McGill University and at the University of Chicago, her research focuses on questions of race, gender, and migration. Specifically, she explores the movement of peoples and ideas from greater Syria to the Americas and has written on the theoretical, social and empirical implications of this movement. Conducting research in Arabic, French, Spanish and English, she has travelled extensively in the Middle East and lived for two years in Damascus, Syria.  Her research bridges several emerging fields, notably Middle Eastern Migration Studies, Arab American Studies, and Transnational American Studies. Gualtieri’s publications include a number of articles as well as her book Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora (University of California Press, 2009). The book examines the history of Arab racial formation in the United States with a particular focus on the problematic of “whiteness.” It traces how Arabs came to be officially classified as white by the U.S. government, and how different Arab groups interpreted, accepted, or contested this racial classification over the course of the 20th century. Gualtieri is now working on a project entitled "The Lebanese in Los Angeles: Migration and Transnationalism in a Multi-racial Landscape.”

At USC, Prof. Gualtieri teaches undergraduate courses on Women and Revolution in the Middle East, the Modern Middle East, Race and Class in Los Angeles, Arabs in America, and a graduate seminar in Critical Studies of Whiteness. She is currently supervising several Ph.D. theses on topics ranging from U.S. imperial interests in the Middle East, to Afro-Arab encounters, and Palestinian cinema; and is a member of several other dissertation committees. She is a recipient of two undergraduate teaching awards.

Prof. Gualtieri's fellowships include the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS); Social Science Research Council (SSRC); and USC's Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Fellowship; and the Zumberge Research and Innovation Individual Faculty Grant.

Prof. Gualtieri is also Regional Editor for the Americas of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures.


  • B.A. History, McGill University
  • M.A. Middle East Studies, University of Chicago
  • Ph.D. Middle East History, University of Chicago

  • Description of Research

    Research Specialties
    Arab American Studies, Diasporas, Race and Ethnicity, Revolution and Occupation.

    Funded Research

    USC Funding
    • Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences . "Arab Angelenos: Syrian Immigrants and Inter-Ethnic Relations in Los Angeles, 1880-1945": This project explores the history of Syrian migration to Los Angeles, paying particular attention to the solidarities that developed with the Latino population in the city., $22,000, 2010-2011   

    Conferences and Other Presentations

    Conference Presentations
    • ""Arabness Unbound: Syrian Migrants in Southern California and their Transnational Imaginaries 1880-1945"", Talk/Oral Presentation, University of California Los Angeles, Burkle Center for International Relatins, Invited, Spring 2013   
    • ""Arab Angelenos: Syrian Immigrants to Los Angeles, 1880-1945" ", Middle Eastern Migrants: New Perspectives, Lecture/Seminar, Paper, Princeton University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizat, Invited, Spring 2011   
    • ""Who is an Arab? Religious Dimensions of a Pan-Ethnic Identity in the United States"", Organization of American Historians, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, New York City, Invited, Spring 2008   

    Other Presentations
    • ""Performing Orientalism, Inscribing Whiteness."", Seminar, University of California Los Angeles, School of Law, Spring 2008   


    • Gualtieri, S. M. (2009). Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Read about this book here

    Book Chapter
    • Gualtieri, S. M. (2008). Strange Fruit?: Syrian Immigrants, Extralegal Violence, and Racial Formation in the United States. pp. 22. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Read about this article here

    Book Review
    • Gualtieri, S. M. (2010). We are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades Against Muslim and Other Minorities. Journal of American Ethnic History.
    • Gualtieri, S. M. (2000). Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon; Colonial Effects:The making of National Identity in Jordan. Radical History Review..

    Journal Article
    • Gualtieri, S. M. (2004). Gendering the Chain Migration Thesis: Women and Syrian Transatlantic Migration. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. pp. 69-80.
    • Gualtieri, S. M. (2001). Becoming "White": Race, Religion, and the Formation of Syrian/Lebanese Ethnicity in the United States. Journal of American Ethnic History, University of Illinois Press. pp. 29-58.

    Honors and Awards

    • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Recipient, Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, 2008-2009   
    • USC Provost's Arts and Humanities Initiative ("Visions and Voices"), 2007-2008   
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, 7/1/2006-7/1/2007  
    • Fulbright Award, 1996-1997  

  • Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Avenue
  • Kaprielian Hall 462
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-2534