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|Title:||Jihadi fictions: Radicalisation Narratives in the Contemporary Novel|
|Keywords:||Islamist violence;Western projections;Radicalization;Jihadi fiction|
|Publisher:||Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles|
|Citation:||Textual Practice: an international journal of radical literary studies, 31 (1), 2017|
|Abstract:||As Ulrich Beck suggests in World at Risk, the fear and anticipation of Islamist extremism has become a dominant strand in contemporary perceptions of risk. Across a range of media, a set of ‘stock’ radicalization narratives have emerged. Typically, a misguided loner of formerly respectable background, often under the tutelage of a fanatic mentor, is brainwashed into embracing a dangerous perversion of Islam. In the background, the complicity of the wider Muslim community is implied in terms of an attitude of passive tolerance towards pernicious elements in their midst. This essay explores some notable attempts in fiction to unpick such popular radicalization narratives. In John Updike’s Terrorist and Sunjeev Sahota’s Ours are the Streets, the psychological and faith dimensions of suicide bombing are a key focus. Set against the depressed landscapes of New Jersey and South Yorkshire respectively, they attempt to explore from the inside, how an educated young Muslim might be impelled along the path to martyrdom. In Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year, the ideological staging of ‘radicalization’ and ‘fundamentalism’ themselves is brought into question. Why, when the West faced mutually assured nuclear destruction for over four decades during the Cold War, do our leaders react with ‘sudden hysteria to the pin-pricks of terrorism?’ Coetzee’s protagonist asks. How does ‘dropping bombs from high altitude on a sleeping village’ escape designation as an act of terror when blowing oneself up in a crowd does not? Current counterterrorist measures include indefinite detention of US citizens without trial, while under the ‘Prevent’ duty in the UK, over two million British public sector workers have been recruited to the largest surveillance exercise ever codified in British law. In this context, the focus of this paper is to explore how recent fiction has attempted to trouble the frames of representation through which a perpetual and ever-intensifying state-of-emergency is passed off as our ‘new normal.’|
|Appears in Collections:||Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers|
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