Will the Real Jihadi Please Stand Up?
Or, the War on Terror is Dead, Long Live the War on Terror
Tuesday, September 14 @ 5:30 PM EDT
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[Note: Due to recent events, this talk will include preliminary reflections on current contestations over the meaning and direction of the "War on Terror," and specifically the tensions between the technocratic and populist aspects of white supremacy and empire]
Two decades into the Global War on Terror -- as well as of standard liberal and left critiques -- the animating specter of "jihadism" remains as obfuscatory and violent as ever. This lecture attempts to clarify the stakes and the harms of this invidious category. Believers call many things jihad -- from personal struggles for self-improvement to armed violence -- and debate over proper uses of the word. The concept of jihadism, however, designates only a subset of these many diverse activities. Yet the very act of delineating which invocations of jihad count as jihadism and which do not is an intervention into a debate among believers using criteria from outside the tradition. Jihadism inevitably gives rise to the implicit residual category, of "non-jihadist" jihads. What can we learn from this (non-)category and what are its stakes for thinking about radical politics more generally?