In Defense of Ho(s)tels: Islamophobia, Domophilia, Liberalism

Ahmad, Irfan. 2013b. “In Defense of Ho(s)tels: Islamophobia, Domophilia, Liberalism.”Politics, Religion & Ideology. 14 (2): 234-252.

Abstract: I foreground the reconstituted notion of ‘nation-state-as-home’ as central to our understanding of the hostility to and fear of Muslims, Islamophobia, in the contemporary west and beyond. The reconfiguration of the quest from a ‘heavenly home’ into an ‘earthly home’ – a prime signature of secular modernity – led to the consolidation of the nation-state as sort of a ‘natural’ home generating a new kind of love: domophilia – domo + philia, love for home. This love for home, domo, stemming from the Indo-European linguistic root, dem – a zone of possession and imagined security – derives its sustenance from its constitutive obverse, foris/foras, outsider and stranger. What simultaneously connects and separates the two is hostility often manifest, inter alia, in war. Discussing the condition of Muslims in the west and in India, this article aims to demonstrate the complex intimacy between domophilia and Islamophobia. Public expression of Islamophobia, I argue, is not a deviation from but constitutive of liberalism. It is my contention that much of the talk about Muslims’ ‘integration’, verily a moderate word for assimilation, is less than adequate to meet the ever-growing challenge of Islamophobia. We need a significantly new way of imagining politics anchored in a ho(s)tel, not in the hegemonic established sense of a ‘home-as-nation-state’ which carries seeds of violence.