“Take Pride in Our Culture”: The Idea of “the West” and the Imagined Geographies of Islamophobia and the “Counter-Jihad Movement”

Authors: Vincent Artman*, Miami University, Ohio
Topics: Religion, Social Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Islam, Islamophobia, religion, imagined geographies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

“Islamophobia” is a phenomenon that seems at once readily defined—as an irrational hatred of Muslims or Islam—and also one curiously resistant to easy characterization. Indeed, as both a category of analysis and as a practice, Islamophobia seems to take for granted the nature of its objects, often eliding the considerable variability of historical, political, cultural, and social contexts invested in them. Unfortunately, ongoing debates over the proper definition of Islamophobia have at times been seized upon as occasions to question whether it exists at all. But if Islamophobia as a concept struggles to achieve definitional clarity, then Islamophobia as a worldview can be said to take certain imagined geographies as basic points of reference. Chief among them, arguably, is the notion of “the West” itself, which is portrayed as constantly in danger of being undermined by jihad in all its guises. Consequently, the loosely-constituted “counter-jihad movement” has come to view the struggle against Islamic subjugation as something to be fought in not only on Middle Eastern battlefields, but also at the borders of the nation-state, in the media and government institutions, in neighborhood supermarkets and public schools, and, ultimately, on the human body itself. This paper contends that, in the end, it is through an examination of these geographies that we can arrive at a more sophisticated understanding of the nebulous character of Islamophobia itself.

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