Gender Forum Speaker Series: Jennifer Petzen




The Biopolitics of European Islamophobia

Jennifer Petzen

Humboldt University


Monday, May 21, 2012


FASS 1102


In Western Europe, debates surrounding the integration of ‘Muslim’ women over the last decade signify the ways in which racialized notions of gender have come to define acceptable and unacceptable ways of being European. Discourses concerning the wearing of the headscarf and ‘honour crimes’ are particular ways in which ‘Muslim’ genders are produced, condemned and held responsible for posing a threat to supposedly stable European values of gender equality and sexual emancipation. In her talk, Petzen examines some of the interventions by feminist activists in Germany regarding the veil and so-called honour crimes, which reflect an increasing acceptance of the state’s escalating racialization and criminalization processes on the part of activists. She concludes that feminisms which instrumentalize the War on Terror to criminalize already racialized populations as threats to the ‘modern’ values of women’s emancipation are limited in their own emancipatory power. In addition, it is vital to recognize that the very racialization of the category ‘Muslim’ needs to be examined not only in a postcolonial context but also how this process has emerged after 9/11 and the ‘War on Terror’.