In Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, leading scholar Deepa Kumar traces the history of Islamophobia from the 16th century to the “War on Terror.” In the twenty years since 9/11, she writes, Islamophobia has functioned in the United States both as a set of coercive policies and as a body of ideas that take various forms: liberal, conservative, and rightwing.
This particular form of bigotry continues to have horrific consequences not only for people in Muslim-majority countries who become the targets of an endless War on Terror, but for Muslims and those who “look Muslim” in the West as well. Importantly, Kumar contends that Islamophobia is not simply religious intolerance or the reaction of an empire in crisis; it must be recognized instead as racism—the kind that manifests in mass surveillance, arbitrary arrests, and deportation, much like other forms of centuries-old systemic racism. And this anti-Muslim racism in turn sustains empire.
Kumar will be joined by Noura Erakat, Naomi Klein, Jasbir Puar, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor for a discussion of all the ways these racist ideas have been stoked since 9/11, and what we can do to oppose them.
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, and non-resident fellow of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School. Noura is the author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019), which received the Palestine Book Award and the Bronze Medal for the Independent Publishers Book Award in Current Events/Foreign Affairs. She is co-founding editor of Jadaliyya and editorial board member of the Journal of Palestine Studies. She has served as Legal Counsel for a Congressional Subcommittee in the US House of Representatives, as Legal Advocate for the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights, and as national organizer of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Noura has also produced video documentaries, including "Gaza In Context" and "Black Palestinian Solidarity." She has appeared on CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others.
Naomi Klein is the bestselling author of The Shock Doctrine, This Changes Everything, No Is Not Enough, and the young adult book How to Change Everything: The Young Human's Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other. She is Senior Correspondent for The Intercept, a Puffin Writing Fellow at Type Media Center and Professor of Climate Justice at the University of British Columbia.
Deepa Kumar is an award-winning scholar and social justice activist. She is Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University. Her critically acclaimed book Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (2012) has been translated into five languages. The second and fully revised edition, published in 2021, marks twenty years of the War on Terror. Dr. Kumar has authored more than 80 books, journal articles, book chapters, and articles in independent and mainstream media. She has shared her expertise in numerous media outlets such as the BBC, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, the Danish Broadcast Corporation, TeleSur and other national and international news media outlets.
Jasbir K. Puar is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of the award-winning books The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (2017); and Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (2007), which has been translated into Spanish and French, with Greek and Portuguese translations forthcoming, and re-issued as an expanded version for its 10th anniversary (2017). Her scholarly and mainstream writings have been translated into more than 15 languages. She is on the advisory board of numerous organizations, including USACBI and Disability Under Siege, a project focusing on disability in conflict zones. In 2019 she received the Kessler Award, a lifetime achievement award from the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies (CLAGS) at CUNY for scholars and activists whose work has significantly impacted queer research and organizing.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes and speaks on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. She is author of Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, which was a semifinalist for the 2019 National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2020. She is also editor of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBQT nonfiction in 2018. She is a contributing writer at The New Yorker, and a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.