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Products for grant FB-56162-12

Understanding Muslim Conceptions of Humiliation
Roxanne Euben, University of Pennsylvania

Grant details:

“Humiliation and the Political Mobilization of Masculinity.” (Article)
Title: “Humiliation and the Political Mobilization of Masculinity.”
Author: Roxanne L. Euben
Abstract: Islamist rhetoric about the humiliation of Islam and American rhetoric about national humiliation have been energized by disparate events in recent years, from the photographs of American soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia to the invasion of Iraq, the “Innocence of Muslims” video to the attacks on 9/11. At the same time, there’s been an explosion of scholarship on humiliation as a driver of international conflict and political violence in general, and in relation to the bodies and minds of Muslims in particular. The link between humiliation and Muslims is thus a co-production between Islamists who continually invoke it and scholars from various disciplines and regions who regularly posit it. Yet there’s been very little analysis of humiliation in Islamist discourse; minimal effort to anatomize the ways in which this experience of humiliation is constructed to necessitate particular kinds of retaliatory action; and no attempt to theorize more broadly about patterns and discontinuities in how different rhetorics construct humiliation. This article takes up the following questions: What is the substantive content of humiliation in such rhetoric and analysis? Do these different rhetorics of humiliation articulate the same understanding of it, as an act and an experience? What does close analysis of Islamist discourse on humiliation in comparative perspective reveal about the political stakes and affective resonances articulated and energized by it in this particular moment in history? Finally, what do the answers to these questions say about the reach and limits of the dominant account of humiliation as the violated dignity or injured self-respect of a generic individual?
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy
Publisher: Sage Publications

“ISIL and the armchair Islamist: How execution videos sell a fantasy of masculinity.” (Article)
Title: “ISIL and the armchair Islamist: How execution videos sell a fantasy of masculinity.”
Author: Roxanne L. Euben
Abstract: In this article aimed at a broader, non-academic audience, I analyze the ISIS execution videos of James Foley and Steven Sotloff on the one-year anniversary of the date that the Foley video was first uploaded. I argue that the primary way of explaining the purpose of these videos has been in terms of strategic logic--that is, in terms of "terrorizing" and recruitment. These terms are at once very vague and miss the ways in which the videos are an instance of "performative violence" as well as horrific, physical violence. That is, they serve to perform the emasculation of these two men--and by extension of the nation they are made to represent--while symbolically transforming the ISIS militant who deliberately and publicly humiliates them, along with the so-called "Islamic State" he represents, as unstoppable, fearless, implacable and masculine.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Access Model: Open access
Format: Magazine
Periodical Title: Quartz
Publisher: Atlantic Media Company

“Rhetorics of Humiliation: The Case of Islamist Discourse.” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Rhetorics of Humiliation: The Case of Islamist Discourse.”
Author: Roxanne L. Euben
Abstract: The paper and presentation entails a close analysis of radical Islamist written (e.g. in pamphlets and treatises) and visual (e.g. as in ISIS video propaganda) rhetoric invoking both the "humiliation of Islam" and exhorting listeners to make the enemies of Islam "taste the humiliation" that has been imposed upon Muslims. By argument and example I demonstrate not only what such rhetoric says but also how it works--that is, how it resonates and even energizes certain experiences of powerlessness among Muslims (and among Muslim men in particular) situated in very different contexts who may share very little with one another--and very little with radical Islamists in addition. I also argue that this pattern is far from unique to Islam and to Muslims, but is operative in many different circumstances and contexts, including in contemporary American invocations of national humiliation by Muslims.
Date: 11/24/15
Conference Name: Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference