'The Figure of the Fanatic: A Rebel Against Christian Sovereignty'.

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This article contends that the Western European figure of the fanatic – the ideational basis of today’s surveillance order – has since its birth in the Reformation possessed a particular political form: that of the rebel against Christian sovereignty. Western European political thought has not, however, considered this revolutionary state to be the inevitable result of an inherent ontology. Rather, suspect populations have been understood as being in a state of imminent fanaticism, which is only realized through a contingent process of becoming. The article argues that this template for understanding the fanatic was articulated through a Christian episteme of political theology that grouped Christianity, Judaism, and Islam together within a single referential frame. Finally, it asserts that the Christian subject disappeared from this frame as a consequence of the Enlightenment project of revolutionary secularism, leaving the colonized Muslim and the minority Jew as the West’s potential fanatics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2161-2178
Number of pages18
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number12
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2018


  • Antisemitism
  • Islamophobia
  • fanaticism
  • colonialism
  • radicalisation
  • radicalization
  • surveillance
  • Anti-Semitism


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