In this draft academic paper, Islamophobia is analyzed as a “lay ideology” that offers an everyday “common sense” explanatory framework for making sense of mediated crisis events (such as terrorist attacks) in ways that disavow those events’ political meanings (rooted in empire, racism, and resistance) and instead explain them as products of a reified “Muslimness.” Thus Islamophobia involves an ideological displacement of political antagonisms onto the plane of culture, where they can be explained in terms of the fixed nature of the “Other.” This maneuver is also an act of projection in the psychoanalytic sense: the racist and imperialist violence upon which US-led capitalism depends cannot be acknowledged in liberal society so it is transferred onto the personality of the Muslim and seen as emanating from “outside” the social order. Imperial violence is then only ever a proportionate response to the inherently aggressive and threatening nature of the fanatical Muslim enemy. In these ways, a Western self-image of innocence and beneficence can be maintained by screening out resistance to the US-led system of global capitalism. On this view, Islamophobia is an instance of a general pattern of racisms serving as imperial ideologies in the modern era. The article contests accounts of Islamophobia that focus only on individual attitudes of prejudice and hatred and instead analyzes Islamophobia as a structural feature of capitalism in the twenty-first century that is intertwined with systems of state surveillance and is able to adapt itself ideologically to a wide variety of local settings.
The paper can be downloaded here.