Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 46, No 3-4 (2017)

Affect, Animality, and Islamophobia: Human-Animal Relations in the Production of Muslim Difference in America

Matthew R. Hotham

Abstract


American internet Islamophobia is fascinated with Muslim attitudes towards animals – especially pigs. Through an examination of internet memes found on right-wing and white supremacist websites and social media groups, this essay argues that affective relations to certain animals are part of what mark the Muslim as other and worthy of hate in American Islamophobic rhetoric. More importantly, this Islamophobic pig imagery, which often mischaracterizes or willfully misrepresents Muslim dietary restrictions, reveals that Islamophobic internet memes are not primarily aimed at Muslims nor are they first and foremost an expression of fear of Islam. Instead this Islamophobic rhetoric takes the form of an inside joke, affectively linking those who are “in” on the joke, uniting them in a jovial transgression of “politically correct" norms. This form of Islamophobia might be better termed “Islamophobophilia,” since it marks some Americans as insiders and others as outsiders. It is a method for non-Muslim Americans to signal to other other non-Muslim Americans that they are the right kind of American.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsor.33901

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