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This essay addresses an evidence-based action project that sought to interrupt and transform bullying behaviors directed at South Asian American youth in schools in the United States (U.S.). In the context of this essay and project, the authors argue that larger macro-level forces that promote misinformation about youth who inhabit brown bodies (in the U.S. and abroad) have given rise to behaviors identified as bullying, and in some cases, harassment and hate crimes in schools. Conventional literature on bullying offers inadequate frames for how the forces of Islamophobia—that affect all those perceived to be Muslim—and bullying come together to shape realities for youth in schools. This essay advances new frameworks and strategies for understanding xenophobic and bias-based bullying, and explores schools as sites of possibility to interrupt Islamophobia and misinformation about South Asian Americans.



The following is the author’s final draft of an article that, after editing and typesetting, was published as:

Brown Bodies and Xenophobic Bullying in U.S. Schools: Critical Analysis and Strategies for Action”

By Monisha Bajaj, Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, & Karishma Desai

Harvard Educational Review, vol. 86:4 (Winter 2016) pp. 481-505

This copy is intended for non-commercial research and educational use, including for instruction at the author’s institution and sharing with colleagues, as well as for archiving purposes. All other uses, such as reproduction and distribution, or selling or licensing copies, or posting to third party websites, are prohibited.

For further information, or for permission to reprint or to purchase copies of the final published version of the article, please contact Harvard Education Publishing Group (HEPG) at, or 617-495-3432.