The Muslim: Islamophobia as Disembodiment

Authors: Ipsita Chatterjee*, University of North Texas
Topics: Social Geography, Cultural Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: Racism, xenophobia, orientalism, imperialism
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 not just a fear of people ascribing to Islam. In the world of surging Alt-Right movements, Islamophobia embodies racism, anti-migrant xenophobia, and orientalism. This article explores right-wing Islamophobic groups in the US and Europe, traces their ideological gurus, deconstructs political speeches, reports of rightwing think tanks to understand how Islamophobia is disembodiment. Inspired by Bourdieu’s habitus, Mearleau-Ponty’s habit-body, and feminist work on embodiment/disembodiment, this article argues that the Muslim narrative thoroughly disembodies the Muslim body; it uproots her from her geography, her history and makes her an all-encompassing container of fear and hatred. Disembodiment is worse than racialization, sexualization, de-modernization, because while the racialized, sexualized, barbarianized subject is de-humanized, a disembodied subject is not even human. A dehumanized subject can use her subjugated position to resist racism, sexism, imperialism, a disembodied subject has no claim to resistance, because her injustice has not been conceptualized.

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