Anti-Colonial Solidarity: Race, Reconciliation, and MENA Liberation confronts the racialization of Middle-Eastern and North African (MENA) perceived peoples from a global perspective. George Fourlas critiques the ways that orientalism, racism, and colonialism cooperatively emerged and afforded the imaginary landscapes of the recently recategorized Middle East. This critique also clarifies possibility, both in a past that has been obscured by the colonial palimpsest, and in the present through exemplary cases of MENA solidarity that act as guideposts for what might be achieved through effective coordination and meaning-making practices. Hence, in confronting the problem of racialization, the author reflects on the conditions of the possibility of a solidarity amongst MENA peoples, and subjugated peoples more generally, that resists the cyclical character of violent domination which has defined colonial power since at least 1492.
Rather than offer a blueprint for a well-ordered free society, however, Anti-Colonial Solidarity explores what is required to enact an open-ended collectivity that resists rigid universalism, as well as reification, and prioritizes reciprocal relations with others and the environment. At once a rejection of orientalist narratives and a critique of solidarity that illuminates defensive possibilities for MENA people beyond the insufficient, yet still necessary, politics of recognition, Anti-Colonial Solidarity is a call to action for MENA people, and subjugated people more generally, to reclaim ourselves and our history from the trappings of colonial domination.
George Fourlas, is the SHIFT Endowed Associate Professor of Applied Ethics at Hampshire College and a visiting faculty member in philosophy and government at Franklin and Marshall College. George’s teaching and research take place at the intersection of social-political theory, applied ethics, critical race theory, conflict resolution, decolonial theory, and global studies. His publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the International Journal of Transitional Justice, Critical Philosophy of Race, and Philosophy and Social Criticism. He is also a co-editor of the Radical Philosophy Review. When not working the academic grind, George enjoys spending time with his family, being outside, and practicing martial arts. Learn more about Dr. Fourlas from his website: gnfourlas.com
Preface and Acknowledgements
Beginning with Ends
1. The “Unknown” Middle Easterner: Post-Racial Anxieties and Anti-MENA Racism Throughout Colonized Space-Time
2. Changing Lenses: Anti-Racist Posturing Versus Praxis, An Enactivist Critique
3. Calling-In MENA Nationalists: Why Recent Geopolitical Boundaries Fail to Account for MENA Subjectivity
4. Decolonizing the Ancients: Or, The Known West and the Anti-colonial Principle
5. Flip the Script: Myth and Example from the Shores of Shinar
6. Be Ready: Lessons from Cyprus and Rojava
Conclusion: MENA America and the Future
About the Author
Political philosopher Fourlas begins his wide-ranging, stimulating discussion of how to overcome the effects of Orientalism, racism, and colonialism with a focus on racialized experiences of populations from the MENA region…. Eschewing both the status quo and Utopian dreams, Fourlas draws on examples of reciprocal-relationality found within the ancient Ionian worldview, at Babel in the plains of Shinar, in the contemporary peace movement among Turkish and Greek Cypriots, and in Kurdish non-state organization and action in Rojava. He demonstrates the possibilities, meanings, and praxis of non-domination and reconciliation across boundaries, including gender, that prove to be neither primordial nor eternal. Through epistemological decolonization and the bottom-up labor of reconciliation, democratic confederalism, consensual meaning-making, and shared leadership, Fourlas insists that the racist colonialism of the modern world can and must be eliminated.Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
Probing in its diagnosis, creative in its constructive spirit, against the alternative of mass extinction, Fourlas offers historical, mythic, and philosophical resources to forge anti-colonial solidarities that are as necessary as they are potentially far-reaching. Illuminating the nature of Middle Eastern racialization and the internalized Orientalism of insular MENA micro-communal, racialized-nationalist commitments, the book portrays a future that must be deliberately and tirelessly built through processes of relearning that center the renovation of reconciliatory practices indigenous to the between space of the Afro-Euro-Asian MENA region prior to its MENAfication. The “Decolonizing the Ancients” chapter is a must-read for all scholars of the history of ideas. I hope it will be taught and reprinted widely!
In Anti-Colonial Solidarity, George Fourlas seeks a way out of the morass that is our enduring colonial, racist, and Orientalist present. What he discovers is that real human freedom—the only kind that’s worth imagining and striving for—will never be found in call-out culture, in narrow nationalisms, or in appeals to the state for equality. Possibilities for real freedom, as Middle Eastern and North African peoples know only too well, can only be created when we work for justice with all of our selves and with each of our others.
Philosophy of race has been expanding beyond black-white relations in novel ways. Fourlas’ book is a compelling example in its sophisticated treatment of the sociopolitical condition and identities of MENA peoples. In making his case, Fourlas unsettles many conceptual habits by centralizing anticolonial solidarity, not just intranational concerns, prioritizing the concept of reconciliation, not merely justice, and reconceptualizing, not just “provincializing,” Europe.
Fourlas has succeeded in giving us a book in contemporary MENA political philosophy written for a MENA audience. In a field where MENA peoples do not exist outside the medieval period, and at a time when the MENA region is reduced to intractable sectarian violence, a hot-bed of terrorism, or a reductive fixation on “the Muslim woman,” Fourlas’s book is a refreshing glimpse of what philosophy might be.