This article works backward from the targeting of Muslims in the war on terror to argue that religion and race have a historical relationship more intimate than typically thought. In particular, it argues that religion is not merely one more semiotic coordinate, alongside descent, phenotype, cultural identity, through which bodies have become racially ascribed as white or nonwhite. Rather, Islamophobia demonstrates that religion (and by extension, secular “ideology”) has historically generated a supplemental racial dynamic irreducible to the assignation of color. This second axis of race distinguishes between those who compose a society worth defending from those whose interior lives or mentalities count as a threat. Like the color line, this second axis of race has a venerable history as a strategy of power. It finds its origins in religious distinctions between the Christian flock and its enemies as constituted by the regime of power that Michel Foucault once called the “pastorate” of premodern Europe. With the rise of the modern governmental state, this medieval politico-theological enemy was translated in secular terms as a figure for ideological threats to civil order, both at the global level of the expanding world-system’s borders and internally within the individual state. A supplement to racisms of the color line, dogma-line racism maps populations along the other side of Cartesian modernity’s mind/body split, in primary reference to mind rather than body, ideology rather than corporeality, according to theologies, creeds, beliefs, faiths, and ideas, rather than their color, face, hair, blood, and origin.
Leerom Medovoi; Dogma-Line Racism: Islamophobia and the Second Axis of Race. Social Text 1 June 2012; 30 (2 (111)): 43–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1541754
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