Accepted Paper:

Fraught state narratives and American Muslim experiences after 9/11  


Huma Mohibullah (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper describes the US government's contradictory positions on Islam and Muslims, and the ways in which Muslim New Yorkers have responded to state-sanctioned Islamophobia.

Paper long abstract:

Following the September 11, 2001 ("9/11") attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, President George W. Bush clarified that "The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends." This desire to distance Islam and ordinary Muslims from terrorists was reaffirmed by President Obama, when he controversially refused to use the term "Radical Islam" in relation to violent Muslim extremists. Yet these platforms stand in stark contrast to the government's War on Terror policies (and associated discourse), which target Muslims in ways that have been compared to 1950s McCarthyism.

This paper argues that the state's post-9/11 positions are fundamentally Islamophobic and guide public perceptions of Muslims. Building on the work of Deepa Kumar and Stephen Sheehi, it describes Islamophobia as a bipartisan framework that is sustained rhetorically and institutionalized through a variety of legal modes, such as legislation, surveillance and incarceration. Finally, it shows how such policies affect American Muslims, specifically Muslim New Yorkers, and how they contend with security narratives that have lead to their vilification.

Panel RM-SPK08
Talking like a state: political narrative in everyday life