Zaheer Kazmi at BISA:
For over forty years, radical Islam has been one of the most clichéd expressions in Western political discourse. From around the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, it has been invoked habitually by policymakers, the media and academics alike. At the heart of justifications for war, it has also dominated analysis of global terrorism and political violence since 9/11. Yet it has often displayed a ‘we know it when we see it’ quality, evident not only in assumptions that underpin its usage in the lexicon of Western security policies but in settled genealogies of ‘Islamism’ or ‘jihadism’ recycled routinely by scholars across various disciplines. Rather than being self-evident, however, analysis of radical Islam functions more as a kind of Rorschach test onto which assorted interpretations of ‘radicalism’ and ‘Islam’ are projected. In my article for RIS, I address the vagaries of radical Islam’s widespread presence in the Anglophone academy by treating the labelling of Islam and Muslim actors as radical as a particular scholarly practice.