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The Power of Humiliation: Rhetoric, Retaliation and Resistance - 26 September 2022

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From Trump to ISIS to the Arab uprisings, invocations of humiliation pervade the political landscape. But what does ‘humiliation’ mean exactly, and how does it work rhetorically? In this lecture on her current research, Professor Roxanne Euben develops an account of humiliation anchored in the way people actually use it in language, with a particular focus on Islamist rhetoric about the ‘humiliation of Islam’ and invocations of humiliation during the 2011 Egyptian Uprising. These cases illustrate broad patterns in how humiliation constructs collective powerlessness, but also how it operates to demand dramatically different responses.

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Professor Roxanne Euben is Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a political theorist whose research has helped pioneer a new area of inquiry often referred to as “comparative political theory”, an understanding of political theory not as coextensive with Euro-American canonical texts but rather as inclusive of intellectual traditions and practices of the “non-West” and global South, as well as of indigenous traditions in, but not of, the "West". Euben’s special area of expertise is Muslim and Euro-American political thought, and her scholarship has addressed such topics as Muslim cosmopolitanism; jihad; martyrdom and political action; travel and translation; gender and humiliation; shared perspectives on science and reason; the politics of visual and verbal rhetorics; and digital time. She is the author of Enemy in the Mirror: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism (Princeton, 1999), Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge, (Princeton, 2006), and Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from Al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton, 2009 with Muhammad Qasim Zaman).

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