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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: Race, Religion, and Communities of Friendship: Contemporary French Islamophobia in Literature and Film
Author(s): McQueen, Fraser
Supervisor(s): Barclay, Fiona
Johnston, Cristina
Kiwan, Nadia
Keywords: Islamophobia
French Literature
French Film
Issue Date: 26-Mar-2021
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This study explores how a corpus of post-2011 novels and films refract discourses surrounding Islamophobia and community in contemporary France. The first two chapters uncover key drivers of contemporary Islamophobia by discussing fictional corpuses which reproduce the racist imagination. The second two chapters build on these insights, exploring corpuses which respectively destabilise racist stereotyping and evoke how a more inclusionary community might be conceptualised. The drivers identified in the first section include both prejudices rooted in French colonial history and broader features of Western modernity. Notable among the latter are a crisis of the nation-state which Paul Dumouchel (2015) argues has driven an intensification of a form of scapegoating that historically responded to such crises, but which can no longer do so successfully; and anxieties generated by a social model that Raffaele Simone (2010 [2008]) labels ‘le monstre doux’. This contemporary despotism hides its totalitarianism behind a friendly façade, keeping citizen-consumers passive while ruthlessly crushing dissenters and the marginalised. The thesis argues that the monstre doux protects itself by deflecting discontent onto vulnerable minorities: in the contemporary West, particularly Muslims. Any attempt to overcome Islamophobia, creating a more inclusionary community, must therefore set itself up against the monstre doux and an inherently exclusionary nation-state framework. The second section of the thesis suggests that what Leela Gandhi (2006) labels a ‘politics of friendship’ may provide a means of channelling anxieties generated by the former towards a model of common life transcending the latter. A politics of friendship opposes possessive communities of belonging by aiming to create an unconditionally hospitable community embracing radical alterity. These unashamedly utopian politics provide an inclusionary alternative to exclusionary utopianisms currently exploiting discontent with the monstre doux, like far-right nativism and jihadism, even if we must remain vigilant against the dystopian spectre that has haunted earlier utopianisms.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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