White Terror in the 'War on Terror'

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Abstract

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
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

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