Muslim Minorities & the Geopolitics of Hate: A Transnational Comparison of India, Australia, and the U.S.

Authors: Amy Piedalue*, Australia India Institute
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Gender, Political Geography
Keywords: Islamophobic nationalisms, intimacy geopolitics, Muslim marginality, plural resistance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper employs transnational comparison to highlight the diversities of Muslim lives and politics across minority populations in India, Australia and the U.S. At the same time, I draw attention to the parallels and linkages between differently situated discourses and representations that produce the figure of a “Muslim other,” whilst reproducing Islamophobic nationalisms based in hegemonic notions of ethnic, religious, and/or racial purity. Gender and violence play pivotal roles in the construction of these nationalist discourses that exclude Muslim belonging. My argument proceeds in two parts. First, I compare three high profile examples: (1) Hindu nationalist fabrication of “love jihad” as a Muslim threat to Hindu women and the Indian nation; (2) attacks directed at author and activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied in Australian media for her challenging of nationalist celebrations of war; and (3) the alt-right, anti-Muslim organization ACT for America’s ‘America First’ rallies in September 2017. I link these Islamophobia discourses, which reproduce the presumption of a violent Muslim threat, to the erasure and maintenance of Muslim marginality across these three nation-states. In the second part of the paper, I draw upon research with Muslim women in Hyderabad, India and Seattle, U.S. to showcase their creative strategies of plural resistance, which work to address both intimate and structural forms of violence. I suggest that this work, embedded in everyday life and community spaces, offers a powerful antidote to this geopolitics of hate that attempts to deploy Muslim women’s bodies and identities as discursive weapons in the so-called ‘war on terror’.

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