9/11 and the Beginning of the End of Liberal Democracy: Fictional Perspectives
International Conference to be held on 27-28 February 2018
at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India
The conference hopes to bring together original research papers on the images of Islam and Muslims post 9/11 in literary texts and media discourses and engage meaningfully with Islam as a human and historical phenomenon where Muslims are neither victims nor threats but active participants within modern liberal structures of societies that are themselves ready to shift from an ‘an uncritical acceptance of the category of religion’ to a ‘critical interrogation of religion as a category’ to understand Islam.
Concept Note and Call for Papers
‘Mankind’s ideological evolution’ seemed, for many, to have reached ‘the end of history as such’ in the worldwide triumph of liberal democracy and market capitalism - visually signified by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989- as the logical culmination of the Western civilization. This narrative was ‘spectacularly’ interrupted by the events of September 2001 which seemed to signal the beginning of the end of the utopia of liberal democracy where capitalism had ‘broken free from the shackles of democracy’. The ensuing ‘global war on terror’ may be justified by ‘the state of exception’ but not all in the ‘West’ or in the ‘Muslim world’ (both conceptual rather than territorial categories that are not monolithic) endorse or wish to be involved in this war. This fact-of-the-matter however gets neutralized, if not lost, in the nuanced language games of fiction, written after the events of 9/11, and its own politics of words and images.
In the wake of an unprecedented scale of global violence and the spread of extremism by individuals and states, both in the ‘West’ as well as in the ‘Muslim world’, it becomes all the more disconcerting to realize that there are no ‘visible enemies’ that ‘triumphant globalization’ is fighting. Secularist triumphalism, the twin of triumphant globalization, which had rolled over traditional religious establishments, had been shaken by the Rushdie Affair in the late 1980s and the fundamentalist retaliations continuing till the early 2000s exposed not only the ‘uncertainties and insecurities of Western societies about the worth of basic liberal values’ (Malak) but also the distance Muslims had travelled away from the spirit and ethos of Islam. Far from being a liberating force, a kinetic social, cultural and intellectual dynamic for equality, justice and human values, Islam on 9/11 seemed to have internalized what the false Western representations had done to demonize it for centuries. (Sardar).The phenomenon of the ‘resurgence of religion’ cannot be seen separately from the hegemonic understanding of religion in the narrow and closed discourse of secularism. In the resultant ‘clash of fundamentalisms’, of Western secularism and Islamism, Baudrillard’s contention that the enemy, in the form of Islamic terrorism, could not in any meaningful way be regarded as an alien phenomenon coming from outside but from within the unchallenged triumphalism of a distorted logic of ‘civilization’, though controversial may not be entirely unfounded. It rises from a deep sense of concern for a globalization that as it grew more and more powerful, so did its cultural and spiritual crisis.
‘Provoked’, as it were, by some of these concerns and the sense that ‘the existing conceptualizations of Islam have in various ways failed to convey the fullness of the reality of what it is that has actually been (and is) going on in the historical societies of Muslims living as Muslims’ (Shahab Ahmad) this conference hopes to bring together original research papers on the images of Islam and Muslims post 9/11 in literary texts and media discourses and engage meaningfully with Islam as a human and historical phenomenon where Muslims are neither victims nor threats but active participants within modern liberal structures of societies that are themselves ready to shift from an ‘an uncritical acceptance of the category of religion’ to a ‘critical interrogation of religion as a category’ to understand Islam. With some of these intended aims we invite original papers of 30 minutes duration.
Sub themes may include but are not restricted to:
Islam, Islamism and Secularization
Politics or Policing of Recognition in Liberal Democratic Societies
The ‘Representability’ of Islamic Fundamentalism
The ‘Rushdie Affair’ and the Post 9/11 Novel
Post-colonialism and the Migrant Muslim Writing
The ‘Resurgence of Religion’ and the Neo-colonial Reality
The War on Terror and the Global State of Exception
Contemporary British Muslim Fiction
Multiculturalism and Neo-oriental Narratives
Globalization, the End of History and Prophetic Religions
Holy War in the Media
Abstracts of about 500 words, with a 50-word note on the speaker, must be emailed to Dr. Rafat Ali <firstname.lastname@example.org> before 15 January 2018. Out-of-town delegates will be notified as soon as possible, to expedite the process of travel bookings. We regret that we cannot offer reimbursement for travel and accommodation, but we could assist delegates in making arrangements for accommodation, if required.