Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Facebook Twitter YouTube Trending Globally Podcast Instagram LinkedIn Tumblr Email list

Deepa Kumar ─ Terrorcraft: Why Racial Control Regimes Persist

Monday, April 3, 2023

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

Even though the War on Terror is officially over, policies and practices put into place to keep Americans "safe" from the racialized terrorist threat persist. What began as a means to control the "Islamic terrorist" has been widened to incorporate a range of threats to the status quo from the “eco-terrorist” and Occupy Wall Street activists to Black Lives Matter and Native American activists. In this talk, Professor Kumar places the terrorist threat within the larger history of racialized securitization in the US to unpack how threats to empire are managed and contained. This is part of a new book project she is working on titled Terrorcraft: Race, Security and Empire, which examines how "terrorcraft," a taken-for-granted regime of racial control focused on the Muslim threat, has been useful for strengthening the policing powers of the national security state in the US. Terrorcraft, she argues, is a malleable regime of social control that has endured past its moment of inception and even deracialized to incorporate other threats. It thus bears similarity to previous racial regimes in US history such as slave patrols, which were precursors to the modern police, and which survived well past the institution of slavery. Terrorcraft as a set of practices and ideologies served to normalize modes of social control that go well beyond the brown terrorist.

Dr. Deepa Kumar is an award-winning scholar and activist. She is Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of more than 80 publications including books, journal articles, book chapters, and articles in independent and mainstream media.

Her first book, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (University of Illinois Press, 2007), is about the power of the U.S. working class in effectively challenging the priorities of neoliberalism. In her second book, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Haymarket Books, 2012) she turns her attention to race and the politics of empire during the War on Terror era. The book was translated into five languages and has been widely read around the world. The second and fully revised edition of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire: 20 Years Since 9/11 (Verso, 2021) updates the book to the end of the Trump presidency.

She is currently working on a third book, tentatively titled Terrorcraft: Empire, Race, and Security, about the political and cultural production of the terrorist threat in the era of neoliberalism.

She is recognized as a leading scholar on Islamophobia both nationally and internationally. She has been sought out by the media for her expertise in numerous media outlets such as the BBC, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Telesur (Venezuela), Hurriyat Daily News (Turkey), Al Jazeera and other national and international news media outlets.