Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power
Savages: Ideology, Primatology, and Islamophobia
This chapter illustrates how a set of affective compulsions can operate outside of the perimeter of discursively mediated ideologies to produce links between religions and systems of power. It argues for supplementing the analytics of religious ideology with a social primatology—an attention to the ways religion is motivated by animal affects rather than language. The chapter’s case study is twenty-first-century American Islamophobia, especially the surge of Islamophobic activity that rose up in the wake of the Park51 controversy of summer 2010. Bringing together analyses of the operation of ideology from affect theory with the emerging field of evolutionary ethics, the chapter shows that both the desire to produce violent in-group/out-group exclusions and the desire to resolve those exclusions by expanding intercommunity relationships emerge out of prelinguistic, animal roots. These affective compulsions combine with what gets called religion to produce formations of power.
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