Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Islamophobia/Hispanophobia: The (Re) Configuration of the Racial Imperial/colonial Matrix

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Islamophobia/Hispanophobia: The (Re) Configuration of the Racial Imperial/colonial Matrix

Article excerpt

I

We have been invoked to respond to the increasing culture of fear and rejection of the specter of Islam that unfolded in recent years mainly in Europe and the U.S., but also in the Russian Federation--that is to say, in the regions of the world where the so-called Judeo-Christian spirit is entrenched in the government and in the media. There is no need to review the transformation of subjectivities and social consciousness in the West where Islamophobia has been mainly located after 9/11. Literature, the mainstream media, independent media, etc., have responded profusely to the event. Islamophobia in the Russian Federation, however, is not nourished so much by the collapse of the twin towers but by the conflict with Chechnya that, of course, precedes 9/11. We have here the traces of two interrelated and at the same time singular histories. And we shall treat them in their singularity rather than to subsume Islamophobia in Russia to a "universal Western" history. Both histories, however--as in that of Christianity, i.e., Western Christians (Catholics and Protestants) and Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Russia--have a common origin and a moment of divergence. Although I am not familiar with the particularities of Islamophobia in the Russian Federation, (1) I think it is important to have it in mind to avoid the mirage that what happens in the West (that is, Western Europe and the U.S.) happens all over the world. Another approach would be to take into account Islamophobia in South Asia and in East Asia, where Christianity made inroads but is not the dominant religion. I will limit my observation, however, to the locales where Christianity became increasingly hostile to Islam at the same time that it increased its complicity with Judaism and with the State of Israel.

In the United States, the specter of Islam at a global scale has been accompanied by the rising specter of Hispanophobia. Interestingly enough, Samuel Huntington has been the ideologue that connected both in two influential books timely published. The first one, that is more well-known, The Clash of Civilizations (1995), was published after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The second one, Who Are We? The Challenges of America s National Identity (2004), was published after 9/11 which gave the U.S. an excuse to intensify the politics of national security. A chapter of Huntington's second book was prepublished with the title "The Hispanic Challenge." How are these two historical sequences and social imaginaries linked in the imperial global designs? Neither of the two historical sequences and social imaginaries are objective or "natural happenings" but invented and placed in a map of global designs. How then does the Western imperial imaginary manage to connect Islamophobia and Hispanophobia as a challenge (or a threat?) to the West and to the U.S. respectively? I suggest some answers to these questions in the following pages.

II

There is a common history that links Western and Eastern Christians. The division between Rome and Constantinople, between Western and Eastern Christians, is well known in the history of Christianity. Eastern Christianity unfolded collectively in Greece, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. Western Christians (or Christendom) were located in the territory that eventually became secular Europe. The differences between both were based on languages, theological principles, and political projects. Religious divisions and distinctions were complemented by ethnicity. The Slavic peoples are defined by their linguistic attainment of the Slavic languages. They inhabited--since the 6th century, about a century before the emergence of Islam--what is today Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, while in the West Latin language became the trademark of Christianity and inhabitants' ethnicity. Anglo-Saxons occupied the territories to the west of Slavic peoples. For the people inhabiting the northeast of the Mediterranean Sea (from Greece to Spain) there is not a single name but several: Hispania, Gaul, Italia (originally Vitalia). …

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