CFP: Islamophobia: (neo)racism and systems of oppression

Monday, Sep 07, 2015 All Day Event

Call for Papers

Islamophobia: (neo)racism and systems of oppression
Montreal, Canada

CONFERENCE DATE: October 24-25, 2015

While several analyses have highlighted discrimination, racism and aversion to Muslims as a racialized group and to Islam as a religion, there also seem to be processes of normalization and trivialisation of Islamophobia in the West. In a “war on terror” mindset and parallel to the rise of right-wing extremist, anti-immigration discourses and an increased globalisation of poverty and neoliberalism, several states have passed laws targeting and stigmatising Muslims, thus allowing an increased surveillance of citizens and of civil society. Although governments developed some of these laws in the aftermath of events such as 9-11 in the United States, the attacks on the Canadian Parliament or the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, it is revealing to approach the study of Islamophobia by going beyond the mere fear, real or imagined, of Islam and Muslims in order to also consider the impacts of these new forms of governmentality and population management technologies that are put forth in the name of national security. Thinking of geopolitical issues, like wars in the Middle East and the privatisation of conflicts in the expropriation of energy resources, in relation to the increase of Islamophobic discourses and practices at the national and international scales leads to several questions. What possible links are there between Islamophobia’s various conditions of possibility at the global and local levels or at the historical and modern ones? How are the figures of the Muslim man, the Muslim woman and Islam constructed as enemies of the state? How do these Islamophobic discourses and practices unfold? What are the underlying systems of oppression at play? Finally, how is Islamophobia used to construct a utopic image of a free West, defender of equality and freedom?

This conference, a collaboration between the Observatoire international sur le racisme et les discriminations de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) (International Observatory on Racism and Discrimination) and the Center for Race and Gender Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the University of California, Berkeley, aims to be a space for reflection and exchange. The city of Montréal will host this event, since several issues related to these themes are relevant to the Quebecois and Canadian contexts. There is a richer Anglophone literature on the question of Islamophobia and although Francophone academic spaces have barely approached these questions, we would like for this event to initiate a series of gatherings on the topic. In order to do this, we suggest two lines of thinking for consideration of this theme.

1) Approaching Islamophobia through the colonial and neo-colonial matrix

Though several authors have highlighted the expansion of Islamophobia in various contemporary political contexts, much is to gain from considering this phenomenon beyond the conditions of its contemporary possibilities. Indeed, it is useful to study Islamophobia from the European expansion of the 15th century, where Western modernity, shaped by colonialism, produced several rational discourses on inferiorisation, exploitation and domination of numerous peoples and nations. We suggest questioning the impact and the relevance of this hegemony on Otherness in the Western context despite its various national trajectories. We favour a multidisciplinary approach that combines different historical, sociological and anthropological perspectives, among others, in order to reflect on the various Islamophobic discourses produced in this colonial matrix and their structural and structuring lasting effects. Ultimately, it is about considering ties between the various forms of racism deriving from this legacy, such as Islamophobia and racism towards Black people, indigenous peoples, the Roma, etc.

2) Methods of expansion of Islamophobia through different systems of oppression

Analysing Islamophobia as a racist and neoracist discourse also leads to questioning the articulation of race with other systems of oppression such as gender, sexuality, class, etc. Fostering this intersectional approach allows to identify Islamophobia’s various forms and the intertwining of power relations, in a context where Islam has often been showcased as a threat to secularism, women’s rights, sexual minorities and the nation. Reflecting on the various articulations of Islamophobic discourse, through various national contexts, allows for a better understanding of the underlying issues animating each of them. How does the recurring conflation of Muslims with Arabs and people from the Maghreb contribute to the invisibilization of other oppressed Muslims? We are looking for analyses where Muslim men and women are approached as non-homogeneous groups, varied and diverse, living with and experiencing oppression in manifold subjectivities.

Submission procedures
Proposals should be submitted as a short argument (300-500 words) in English or in French, along with a short biography (100 words maximum). Proposals must be sent before 15 August 2015, by email to
You will receive an answer no later than September 1st 2015. The conference will be held on 24-25 October 2015.

Organizing Committee
Leïla Benhadjoudja, Université du Québec à Montréal
Hatem Bazian, University of California at Berkeley and Ramón Grosfoguel, University of California at Berkeley.


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