SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

The Political, Colonial, and Libidinal Economies of Gendered Islamaphobia

Dr. Ben Whitham (SOAS); Discussant: Dr. Kerem Nisancioglu (SOAS)

Date: 2 February 2022Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 2 February 2022Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B103 (Brunei Gallery 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.

Zoom link

Bio for Dr. Ben Whitham:

Ben joined SOAS as Lecturer in International Relations in 2021, following five years at De Montfort University, Leicester. His research agenda is situated in international political sociology, and incorporates a range of overlapping interests, from neoliberalism, socio-economic crises and state violence, to Islamophobia, cultural politics, and the far right. Ben's most recent publications include the 2021 article (with Nadya Ali) 'Racial Capitalism, Islamophobia, and Austerity', in International Political Sociology, and an essay on 'The Cultural Politics of Crisis in the UK', published in the 2022 Routledge edited volume Power, Media and the Covid-19 Pandemic. He is currently making the final amendments to a textbook manuscript, Global Politics, for Bloomsbury Publishing, which is due out next year.