This book asks the critical question, how did we get here, to this place of hijab bans and outlawed minarets, secret renditions of enemy combatants, Abu Ghraib, and GTMO? It is not simply a result of September 11, 2001, Madrid 2004, or London 2005, nor a culmination of events of the past decade or the past century. Terrorist attacks, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the increased movement of Muslim immigrants into northern and western Europe, and the visibility of Islam, in general have contributed to a voicing of "the Muslim problem." However, these concerns represent old anxieties that lie within a multiplicity of times and spaces on the pages of manuscripts and canvases of paintings, in works of great drama, poetry, and fiction, within travel diaries and government documents, and on the screens of movie theaters. To find the answer to the question posed here, we must look at numerous fields of cultural production; there, we find a vision of Islam that is both familiar and unsettling. Within it, we must seek what is common. What is common is the Muslim monster.
The history of monsters is a subject addressed in several disciplines, among them history, theology, and religious studies. In this study, I will argue that imaginary Muslim ,monsters have determined the construction of the Muslim in Western thought. At times, these constructions have involved fantasies about Jewish and African bodies; ,at other times, they have reacted to anxieties surrounding categories beyond race-in particular, those related to religion, gender, and sexuality. To be clear, I am interested here in raising an awareness of these creatures-demons, giants, cannibals, vampires, zombies, and other monsters-that can help us understand the status of Muslims today as stock characters in the Western imaginary landscape. The character of the homicidal terroristic Muslim stalks the Western social imaginary in print media, television, and film, but he has ancestors.
Muslim men are so dehumanized that since 9/11 they have become less than zero, an example of Agamben's "bare life," reduced to bodies held indefinitely, stripped of all legal rights afforded under US domestic and international law, force-fed like animals. 1 The stripping of identity, displays of sadbmas6chism and other sexual fantasies, and the manipulation of multiple bodies through hooding and piles of naked bodies are examples of biopower (the technology of power that manages human bodies). These acts recall terrible visions embedded in our collective historical memory, including "genocidal mass executions and graves."2 Such crimes are not explained simply by the culture of the military industrial establishment. They are also an effect of fantasies about Muslims as non-human fantasies that have spanned the ages.
An imperative point regarding the vocabulary used in this study is that the history of Muslim monsters is distinguished from what we think of as "Islamophobia," the particularistic attitude toward Muslims that scholars have often described as an aversion to or "anxiety of Islam."3 Much of the scholarship has argued that contemporary Islamophobia is situated in political neoliberalism and the vision of the world it wishes to create, seen perhaps most vividly in the political discourse surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the War on Terror, which highlighted the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim trope by suggesting that any opposition to American militarism was tantamount to supporting the enemy.4 I am concerned here with the West's imaginaire of Islam: the idea of the Muslim as a frightening adversary, an outside enemy that doesn't belong in modernity, who, due to an intrinsic alterity, must be excluded from the American and European landscapes.
Political Islamophobia, as represented by the image of veiled (niqabi) women disrupting the pristine, white, Christiah Swiss countryside, is a recent phenomenon. In contrast, the characters documented in this study contribute to the construction of Muslims as uncivilized, hyper-violent permanent foreigners who, despite their global·geographic distribution, ethnic and cultural diversity, and large numbers, are reduced and essentialized to a caricature of ridiculous proportions. Edward Said described this character as the "camel-riding; terroristic, hook-nosed, venal lecher." Although human, he shares the banality and evil of Muslim monsters from the past. Muslims are the monsters of the present, phantasms that result from an imaginary Islam that has been shaped over many centuries.
A serious concern of this study is the relationship between imaginary characters and living human beings. The sexual nature of many of the crimes committed at Abu .Ghraib, images of which are now familiar human pyramids of naked bodies, prisoners on dog leashes, the grati fied smiles of the captors-aid in the process of dehumanization. Sexual imagery has been an integral -part of Western discourse about Muslims from the beginning, from tales of Prophet Muhammad's unending sup plies of sexual energy to the necrophilia associated with the character of Dracula. In Abu Ghraib, these fantasies were played out on real bodies, helping to excommunicate Muslims from the human community. As one scholar put it, "sexualized torture evicts Arabs from the community of men and from a common humanity."6
When we consider Muslim monsters as a corpus-a genealogy ofimages that are related, at times closely, and at times through several degrees of separation-it is evident that they contribute to the ways in which Muslims are conceptualized today-as interruptions that disturb normative humanity, civilization, and modernity. In sacred rituals that are public, such as the performance of prayer, Muslims represent a particularly irritating affront to liberalism. The pejorative statements made about Muslims in the public sphere are largely tolerated-a tolerance that is unthinkable for other communities. The dehumanization that occurs at the level of speech is carried further in fire bombings of mosques, verbal and physical attacks on muhajabat (Muslim women who veil), and other hate crimes. When unrestrained violence against Muslims is promoted and sanctioned by governments, as documented in cases of abuse and homicide at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base, and Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), it makes more public abuses acceptable. The opposite is also true. Herein lies the central concern of these pages-that the imaginary violence perpetrated by Muslim monsters, as well as the figurative harm inflicted on these villainous characters, affects real Muslim bodies.
The task of documenting 1,300 years of Muslim characters is overwhelming in its scope, even when reduced to the subject of monsters. I have focused my analysis on a particular type of monster, one that is non-human or hybrid, male, and racialized (most of the monsters contained within this study are non-Anglo). Only a few white Muslim monsters, suffering from "the disease of Islam," are presented in this work. In these cases, anxieties surrounding religious and racial identity are so pronounced that bodily structure alters, as in the cases of deformed Muslim infants magically transforming into beautiful, white babies when they rejoin the Church.
Chapter 1 discusses the parameters of this work and outlines the ways in which the category of monsters provides an important tool for understanding the history of Christian-Muslim relations. By looking at how monsters function in culture as a tableau onto which numerous fears and anxieties are placed, we can better understand their role in identity-formation. The period examined, roughly thirteen hundred years, suggests that monsters are not limited to pre-modernity, and that no one-to-one linkage exists between medieval creatures and, those situated later, in the European Enlightenment, during the Orientalist heyday, or in the colonial American period. While the linkage may not be direct, many of the monsters covered in this study share similar characteristics to those that were first formulated in medieval times. These monsters disturb the calm of white Christianity, providing a standard contrary to normative humanity. In political discourse, Muslims continue to be framed as disturbances, assaulting Western civilization's ordered sensibilities. Islam is the kid who won't go along, exhibiting a "limitless pursuit of freedom, the illusion of an uncoerced interiority that can withstand the force of institutional disciplines.''7
Chapter 2 provides the beginning of the genealogy that is laid out in this work. In order to understand why medieval Christians created Muslim monsters, it is necessary to first look at the ways in which community, identity, and epistemology functioned for the average man or woman living in Europe during the Middle Ages. Ideas about geography, race, morphology, and morality determined the monsters of the age, in part by limiting the human universe to a small territory such as the environs of Jerusalem, Rome, or another municipality, and in part by formulating a vision of identity that might be determined by anything from a hairstyle to skin color, as well as by viewing Christianity as determinative of normative humanity, while everything else existed as strange, foreign, and monstrous. Islam emerged at a time of uncertainty, doubt, and superstition, factors that contributed to the various mythologies about Muslims (often called Saracens) covered in this chapter, from narratives about Prophet Muhammad as an agent of the devil to tales of Arabs as a monstrous race from beyond the borders of the natural world.
Chapter 2 begins with the monsters found on the pages of medieval texts, the canvases of medieval psalters and paintings, and the many stories that populated European imaginations in the nascent years of Islam and through the later Middle Ages. Of particular interest here are those creatures identified as Muslim/Saracen, African, and Jewish, or some combination thereof, pointing to two aspects of medieval sensibilities about the Other: first, that outsiders were often viewed as strange and terrifying, a trend that typically worsened with communities located far from the Christian center; and second, that the construction of Muslims as creatures was formulated to some degree by anxieties about Jews and Africans. Primarily, we see this in the Black Saracen-a dark-skinned, demonic, turban-wearing Christ-killer-and the cynocephalus, the dog-headed man who, in addition to howling, barking, and attacking Christians, was also depicted as the killer of Christ, cast as either a Jew or a Saracen or a hybrid of the two. These characters illustrate the ways in which numerous fears created imaginative bodies, bodies that justified the "crude treatment of those religious and ethnic others in any real-life confrontation."8
Chapter 3 transitions to the monsters that populated the Elizabethan Age, found in the great paintings of the Renaissance, two famous dramas by Marlowe and Shakespeare, tales of monstrous births, German stories of the Turkish East, and in a pastry that represents the dismembered body of a Muslim captive. Turkish characters appear in numerous Renaissance paintings that depict the crucifixion of Jesus or the martyrdom of a later saint, often alongside Jewish figures-a way of furthering the co-identification of Jews and Muslims popularized in medieval art. The overwhelming majority of these characters are Turkish, signaling a shift from Saracen/Arab and African characters to Turkish ones - evidence of European anxieties surrounding Ottoman power and a continued discomfort with Muslim bodies.
Although fewer in number, the monsters that followed the Elizabethan period often appeared in lands that Europeans wished to colonize. An example is the croco-sapien, the hybrid monster indigenous to the Nile River. In Chapter 4 particular attention is also given to Jewish-Muslim villains, many of which are situated in the discourse of Orientalism. I also examine how the wasteland, a landscape featured prominently in Orientalist poetry and drama, strongly influenced Gothic horror fiction, a genre of Romantic literature that includes numerous Oriental monsters, including a Moor named Zofloya and a Turkish vampire named Dracula. The dynamic quality of Gothic horror, with its resurrection of medievalism and Orientalist imagery, left an indelible mark on popular culture, influencing European and North American writing, architecture, art, television, and motion pictures.
Chapter 5 shifts from Europe to the American continent. During the conquest of the Americas, ·Europeans claimed to observe all manner of monsters, some that resembled Plinian beasts and others that were described 'as devil-worshippers. The American Indians were described as Moors and their cities as New Cairo, evidence of the Maurophilia that occupied the European imagination. After the age of exploration, US settlers introduced a new category of Muslim monsters that came from the Barbary Coast, a re-emergence of the Black Saracen in new clothes, described as the "monsters of Africa." The Barbary monsters became stock characters in political discourse, adventure fiction, board games, and later, cinema, helping to-establish Islam as a foreign religion that was initially connected to hatred against Africans and, later, African-Americans.
The remainder of Chapter 5 examines the Muslim monsters of film, including vampires, mummies, giants, aliens, and zombies. I discuss the presence of Orientalism in science fiction and other genres, a practice that has contributed to the vision of the East as a mysterious, distant, and dangerous space. In particular, I focus my attention on Dracula's Jewish and Muslim attributes and the relationship between Orientalism, mummies, and zombies.
Chapter 6 examines the ways in which later zombie films represent apocalyptic visions inspired in part by the events of September 11, 2001. Movies provided a vehicle for Muslim monsters to be displayed, and, I would argue, they continue to serve as the most dominant cultural force in the modern American milieu-a space·in which Muslim monsters continue to be generated. The final chapter of this work also provides a broad discussion of the ways in which the violent discourse about Muslims affects the disciplinary practices imbedded in subcultures within the United States, including the military industrial establishment. Indeed, the fantasies documented in earlier chapters are played out on the bodies of Muslims at sites where "imperial racism, sexuality, and gender catastrophically collide."9 These locations-Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base, GTMO-function as spaces in which the fantasies of Muslims as non-human are played out on real bodies. The crimes committed at Abu Ghraib and at other sites, despite their description as aberrations ("a few bad apples"), result from the historical continuities displayed in 'anti-Muslim discourse that features an imagery of horror and death.10
There are a number of ways in which one might voice objections to the argument that fantasies of Muslim monsters constitute the current imaginaire about Islam. One objection is the presence of non-monstrous Muslim characters, including the existence of a few positive Muslim representations of Muslim historical figures in European history, such as Salahuddin.11 The positive and even rolltantic treatments of Muslims are, however, trivial when cohsidered ;16ngside the grand narrative about Islam, an overwhelmingly negative and dehumanizing treatment that has its origins in the Middle Ages, sees its development in pre-modernity, and is cemented into the Western consciousness through colonialism and Orientalism. In photos from Abu Ghraib, testimony from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and images from GTMO, where the bodies of Muslims continue to be brutalized, we can see just how powerful this discourse is.
Another objection that might be raised is that these images have only been seen, read, or digested by a few, and thus cannot exist as a powerful force in the construction of knowledge about Islam. This is countered by two facts: first, the large number of Muslim monsters found across numerous fields of cultural production and the disparate locations in which they function as social, literary, artistic, and filmic characters. Second, negative feelings are voiced by high numbers of non-Muslims against Islam and its followers. For example, European attitudes tow rd Muslims are far worse than attitudes toward other immigrants, a situation that is amplified in most eastern European states.12
Fantasies about Muslims are convincing. Muslim men are viewed as terroristic villains, despite the fact that statistically, an infinitesimally small number of Muslims participate in violent political acts. These representations matter; if they did not, we would not have "the Muslim problem," a phrase that American news host Bill O' Reilly uses to describe the existence of Muslims as a pestilence, a biblical descriptor that has anti-Semitic resonances of "the Jewish problem" and suggests that a solution must be found.
I want to change the question from- "Why do they hate us?" and ask instead, "Why do we fear them?" This requires an examination of the ways in which Islam was first constructed, and the ways in which these early characters established, a fantasy that has been difficult to let go of. However, before doing this work first need to establish the parameters, definitions, and methodology of this work, and this is the task of Chapter 1.
1. Susan Sontag, "Regarding the Torture of Others,n New York Times Magazine, May 23, 2004: 26.
2. Stephen C. Caton, "Coetzee, Agamben, and the Passion of'Abu Ghraib,"
American Anthropologist 108, no. 1 (2005): 121.
3. Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg, Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2008), 5.
4. Bush and bin Laden provided similar visions of a world bifurcated by modernity and medievalism. Both utilized religious language and outlined who the enemy was (for Bush, radical Islamicists; for bin Laden, anyone but radical Islamicists). See Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003), 29.
5. Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1978), 108.
6. Sherene H. Razack, "How Is White Supremacy Embodied? Sexualized 'Racial Violence at Abu Ghraib," Canadian Journal of Women and Law 17 (2005): 356.
7. Talal Asad, On Suicide Bombing (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 91.
8. Anna Czarnowus, Inscription on the Body: Monstrous Children in Middle English Literature (Katowice: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Sl;iskiego), 2009, 77.
9. Anne McClintock, "Paranoid Empire: Specters from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib,n Small Axe 13, no. 1 (2009): 54.
10. See McClintock 2009, 64, on the use of torture against non-whites in US history.
11. Salahuddin is more commonly known as Saladin in the West. An individual cited in Christian texts for his bravery and chivalry, he was often compared to his contemporary Richard the Lionheart for his chivalry and bravery. See G.J. ten Hoor's article, "Legends of Saladin in Medieval Dutch." Monatschefte 44, no. 6 (October 1952): 253-256.
12. Zan Strabac and Ola Listhaung, "Anti-Muslim Prejudice in Europe: A Multilevel Analysis of Survey Data from 30 Countries," Social Science Research 37 (2008): 283. According to this research, the Czech Republic is the exception to this trend, in that general anti-immigrant sentiments are stronger than anti-Muslim attitudes (p. 279).