The Rise of Author­i­tar­i­an Iden­ti­ty Pol­i­tics in France (Stock­holm University)


Time: 14:00 – 14:30

Loca­tion: Stock­holm

Talk by Hagen Stein­hauer at the con­fer­ence The Power(s) of Lan­guage. Nego­ti­at­ing Voice and Recog­ni­tion (BTWSD#4)

In the wake of the 2020 ter­ror­ist attacks, the term islamo-gauchisme gained salience in French mass media dis­course. Mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment, specif­i­cal­ly the min­is­ters of nation­al edu­ca­tion and research, used it not only to con­demn fun­da­men­tal­ist and Dji­hadist ide­olo­gies, but also to accuse cer­tain aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­plines of intel­lec­tu­al com­plic­i­ty with Islamism. Islamo-gauchisme thus equates alleged left­ist sup­port for Islamist fun­da­men­tal­ism with crit­i­cal research projects like post­colo­nial stud­ies or inter­sec­tion­al feminism.

Islamo-gauchisme com­bines the denial of struc­tur­al racism and Islam­o­pho­bia with a dele­git­imiza­tion of cri­tique and the notion of an endan­gered white major­i­ty threat­ened from out­side as well as from with­in. Thus, it should be under­stood as part of the far-right’s larg­er strat­e­gy to push back against left-wing eman­ci­pa­to­ry pol­i­tics and to imple­ment their agen­da in the cen­tre of polit­i­cal discourse.

I argue that we are wit­ness­ing a broad­er author­i­tar­i­an shift which con­sol­i­dates eth­no-nation­al­ly encod­ed iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics of the men­aced major­i­ty: far-right nar­ra­tives of Islamiza­tion and the grand rem­place­ment have become an inte­gral part of pub­lic dis­course. The main­stream­ing of these ide­olo­gies has already had effects on leg­is­la­tion: A new law on sep­a­ratism led to the dis­so­lu­tion of activist groups and NGOs speak­ing up against Islam­o­pho­bia. Islam in gen­er­al was fur­ther stig­ma­tized and cri­tique of insti­tu­tion­al Islam­o­pho­bia dis­missed as racisme imag­i­naire.    In my pre­sen­ta­tion I will exam­ine the his­to­ry of the term islamo-gauchisme to iden­ti­fy its under­ly­ing argu­men­ta­tion and its influ­ence on cur­rent debates around séparatisme and wok­isme. The dis­cur­sive func­tion of all of these buzz­words, I argue, is to deny the exis­tence of struc­tur­al dis­crim­i­na­tion in order to uphold racial­ized and gen­dered hier­ar­chies. France is wit­ness­ing the rise of an author­i­tar­i­an iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics aimed at dele­git­imiz­ing claims for equal recog­ni­tion and rights of minorities.


Hagen SoftAuthoritarianisms