SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

The Political, Colonial, and Libidinal Economies of Gendered Islamaphobia

Ben Whitham (SOAS)

Date: 2 February 2022Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 2 February 2022Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429 (SOAS Main Building)

Type of Event: Talk

Women disproportionately suffer Islamophobic racism in the UK (Allen 2013; Ali and Whitham 2021). Causal explanations of this differential experience often include the fact that women may bear more visible markers of ‘perceived Muslimness’, such as wearing hijab or niqab (e.g. Hopkins 2016; Zempi 2019), and that women in general (including non-Muslim women) routinely face a complex range of abusive behaviours in the UK, as a patriarchal society (Mancini 2012). Less attention has been paid, however, to the economies – the systems of production, exchange, distribution, and consumption – that constitute gendered Islamophobia. This chapter extends emerging research on the political economy of Islamophobia (Ali and Whitham 2021), drawing also upon Bhambra’s (2020) call for a ‘colonial global economy’ approach – and antecedent literatures on racial capitalism (Robinson, 1983; Bhattacharyya 2018) – along with the concept of racial ‘libidinal economies’ developed by Frank Wilderson (2010, 2020) and others (e.g. Bennett 2016; Sexton 2016; Tate 2017). In so doing, the chapter aims to show how gendered Islamophobia serves specific racist logics that are: a) framed by, and reproduce or extend, colonial ‘race’ thinking on socio-economic entitlement and disentitlement, and b) characteristic of racist libidinal investments, which are pivotal to the psycho-social interplay of political anxiety, desire, fantasy, and enjoyment.