White Terror in the 'War on Terror'

Madeline Abbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One fantasy of whiteness is that the threatening Other is always a terrorist. This projection enables many white people to imagine there is no representation of whiteness as terror, as terrorizing (hooks 1992: 174).

Following bell hooks, I argue that Western and Muslim relations have operated through a civilising/terrorising binary. This framework enables acts of terror to be projected onto the bodies of Muslims whose presence is perceived as a threat to the ‘civilised’ world which must, therefore, be contained through any means possible. This article disrupts the civilising/terrorising binary by arguing that white terror is active in the schema of the ‘War on Terror’ and advances a conceptual framework for its operation that I term the ‘Concentrationary Gothic.’ Drawing on empirical evidence from 26 in-depth qualitative interviews conducted between 2010-11 in Leeds and Bradford in England, this article challenges conceptions of Muslims as a ‘threatening Other’ by exploring how Muslims experience terror in the post-9/11 context. I develop the concentrationary as a conceptual tool alongside the Gothic to examine how features of the Gothic—the monster, hauntings and the spectral, and abjected states—intersect with the state of exception to advance a complex investigation of the culture of fear discussed by participants and its effects on their lives in contemporary Britain.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Race and Whiteness Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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