The Islamic Other in Post-9/11 America: Reading Resistance in Hamid and Halaby

Author: Pathik Roy, St. Joseph’s College, West Bengal, India
Published: July 29, 2022

Citation: Roy, P. (2022). The Islamic Other in Post-9/11 America: Reading Resistance in Hamid and Halaby. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 9(1).


The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on 11th September, 2001, left behind 2977 dead, an altered Manhattan skyline and a changed world order marked by a formidable upsurge of global discourses pertaining to terrorism, multiculturalism, xenophobia, collective memory, and so forth. Indeed, 9/11 inhabits a discursive field of narratives/counter-narratives defying closure. Taking into cognizance this inevitability of myriad discourses, the present paper engages with the politics of the emergence of the discursively constructed Islamic Other in the post-9/11 national imaginary. Using the Foucauldian ideas of Power/Knowledge and “regime of Truth” along with Said’s major premises as are found in the works Orientalism and Covering Islam, the paper attempts to debunk the idea that “innocent”, neutral and objective representations in the media have been the norm. It argues that the fanatical, regressive and jehad-driven stereotype of the Islamic Other that gained visibility/ circulation/ legitimisation in the post-9/11 American socio-political culturescape had a Stateist genesis rooted in the reductive, ahistorical, Manichean binary of “us versus them” which essentially constituted the official discourse. It traces the trajectory of the Arab-American experience from initial erasure/ invisibility to hyper-visibility in the post-9/11 years, a time marked by deep fractures in the civil society where xenophobia, racial profiling and jingoistic patriotism became normalised. One way of generating resistance to such workings of power is by launching a counternarrative through the literary text. Consequently, the paper ends with a detailed engagement with two novels, one by Mohsin Hamid and another by Laila Halaby, that resist the official stereotypes/discourses while foregrounding the various registers of Othering in the post-9/11 years.


9/11, Arab-American, Foucault, Islamic Other, Said, stereotypes