The Metaphysics of Islam Loving & Hating: Blasphemy, Drones and Lawful Violence

Authors: Najeeb Jan*, University of Colorado
Topics: Political Geography, Social Theory, Middle East
Keywords: Political Islam, drones, Empire, biopolitics, political ontology, Foucault, Agambenn
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Iris, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper — which is centrally concerned with the the decadence of modernity and the colonial present — I offer a comparative analysis of two forms of ‘lawful’ violence and excess that coincide within the juridical space of Pakistan. The killing of alleged ‘heretics’ under the blasphemy laws and the killing of alleged ‘terrorists’ through the CIA’s clandestine use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or Drones. The paper seeks to draw out the underlying juridico-political and ontological architecture of both forms of what critics argue are extra-judicial killings. We have on the one hand a form of technologically mediated death dealing justified by a liberal logics of security, and on the other, a form of killing that is valorized on the grounds of ‘protecting’ a religion of peace. Drawing on Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben’s analytic of modern biopolitical sovereignty, this paper suggests that an ontological mode of inquiry is essential for exposing structures of violence and power which implicitly govern ideologies otherwise seemingly distant from one another. By exposing the metaphysical homology between beheadings and drone strikes, the paper explores what appears to be radical indistinction between contemporary Islamic and Western legal regimes.

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