Dr Sahar Ghumkhor
University of Melbourne
Solidarity acts like national days of mourning are national rituals of belonging. They can also mark what Sara Ahmed (2005) contends is the limit of the liberal multicultural nation’s capacity to take-on bad feelings, to experience national shame as redress for transformative justice. Liberal multiculturalism trades in the affective economies of empathy and compassion to perform recognition of difference all the while leaving unaddressed how histories of racial violence continue to determine the rules of recognition and national belonging. Many have praised the New Zealand government’s response to the shootings of two mosques in Christchurch this year as an example of empathy, solidarity and inclusivity at a time when the world appears to have turned to the right on matters of multiculturalism, Immigration and refugees. But does law have the capacity for inclusivity in the aftermath of such an unprecedented act of violence? How have Muslim responses raised concerns about acts of solidarity? In the broader project I examine The Royal Commission into Christchurch, the national day of mourning for Christchurch, and the Ardern government’s official statements, to assess whether law aims at addressing the extent of the collective injury experienced by the Muslim community, who has up until now been seen as those who law must protect ‘us’ from. In this paper I will argue Christchurch signals we have not come far from the paranoid surveillance of political speech since 9/11.
Dr Sahar Ghumkhor teaches and researches in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. Her research explores the Muslim Question in the discourse of terrorism, Islamophobia and the politics of Muslim women. Her book The Psychology of the Veil: the Impossible Body examines the intersections of law, the body, difference and psychoanalysis. It will be available in February 2020 with Palgrave Macmillan.