Governmentality and the Construction of Muslim Masculinities and Femininities in Canadian Domestic and Foreign Politics

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 2:30 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Tabasum AKSEER , Cultural Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
The murders of Aqsa Pervez in 2007 and the Shafia sisters in 2009 increased the public’s interest/concern in honour related crimes and religious accommodation in Canada. The Muslim identity of the victims and perpetrators was a crucial factor, as evidenced in subsequent media reports which erroneously linked honour related violence with the Islamic faith/culture. Many extrapolated these murders to the justification for the ‘war on terror’. The media illustrated to Canadians that Canada was involved in Iraq and Afghanistan to save similar Muslim women from Muslim men. This resonated with literature which argues that ‘war on terror’ is represented through the interactions between three characters; the ‘dangerous’ Muslim man, the ‘imperilled’ Muslim woman, and the ‘civilised’ European. It is through the interplay of these characters that democratic Western nations use excessive political, military and legal force to protect their citizens from third world threats; domestically and internationally. The government uses excessive force domestically to realign themselves within the ‘war on terror’ and continue their rhetoric on “protecting Canadians.” These measurements are linked to governmentality. The threats against which society must be defended are manifold, thereby permitting the state to employ harsh, perhaps even racist, measures to protect itself and its’ citizens. This paper intends to critique Canadian legal and political discourses as a point of departure in investigating the extent to which Islamophobia thrives as a tool of governmentality. How is the construction of Muslim masculinities in the West used to dominate/justify the war on terror? How are Muslim masculinities treated in Canadian domestic politics? This paper will illuminate the legal and political realms of government control/surveillance over immigrant bodies though highlighting the role of popular media as a realm wherein the West triumphs its Orientalist dominance over the Muslim male.