The Contested Terrain of Islamophobia: Performances of Anti-Muslim Hatred and Muslims’ Experiences As Bodies ‘out of Place’

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Madeline-Sophie ABBAS, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
The shift in focus from ‘race’ to religion requires attention to discontinuities and continuities in Muslims’ experiences of hostility that requires a nuanced understanding of Islamophobia that is attentive to intersections of ‘race,’ religion, gender and age. Drawing from research conducted in Bradford and Leeds in the UK with British Muslims, this paper explores how stereotypes of the ‘dangerous Muslim male’ and what I term the ‘imperil/led Muslim’ woman that is increasingly featured as both subject and object of terror, legitimates anti-Muslim hatred, which re-works everyday spaces as spaces of insecurity. I show that Muslims’ association with terror post-9/11 creates conditions in which they are terrorised within everyday spaces by the white non-Muslim nationalist who takes up the position of ‘protector’ of the nation and its values. The paper thus challenges stereotypes of Muslims as hostile subjects by explicating their experiences of terror involved in the management of national space symbolically, materially, and affectively through interrogation, spitting, and ripping off the veil. In particular, I show that the treatment of Muslims as objects of disgust to be expunged from national space emanates not from fear, but functions as a strategy of dominance that is connected to power relations which separate subjects from those not quite subjects. These exclusionary practices are significant for understanding the contested terrain in which Islamophobia operates. Whilst providing a language for Muslims to articulate the particular terrors they face qua Muslims, representations of Muslims as a threat to the nation work to entrench Islamophobia within the national consciousness.