Cutting Edges of the Decolonial

Thu Feb 29 2024 at 05:30 pm to 07:30 pm

IASH | Edinburgh

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)
Publisher/HostInstitute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)
Cutting Edges of the Decolonial
A talk by Dr Ali Kassem: "Cutting Edges of the Decolonial: Thinking Anthropocentrism and Queerphobia from/in the Arab-majority World(s)"
About this Event

Dr Ali Kassem – Department of Sociology and Anthropology, National University of Singapore

Thursday 29 February 2024, 17:30-18:30, followed by a drinks reception

Over the past years, decolonisation has emerged as a significant discourse across social spheres (Maldonado-Torres 2011; Behari-Leak 2019). This has been particularly relevant in Euro-America, and within academic and education settings (Bhambra et a. 2020). Slowly, this turn has made progress into the global south(s), including the Arab-majority world(s). This paper auto-ethnographically analyses this emerging interest in ‘decoloniality’ across multiple sites of the Arab world. Based on extensive advocacy work, multiple research projects, collaborations, seminars, meetings, and classes taught with students and academics across the region in higher education institutions, secondary schools, policy institutes, Non-Governmental Organisations, and Muslim religious establishments, the paper makes visible an ‘identitarian haunting’ of the decolonial. Doing this, it analyses a selective embrace of the decolonial - as anti-Islamophobic for example - entwined with slippages into an always-already ready religious-cultural alternative – or a rejection of one. Specifically focusing on relationality to nature/anthropocentrism and queerphobia, I argue that these slippages make visible cutting edges of the decolonial as it re-inscribes power rather than disrupt it. Reflecting on the consequent foreclosures of liberatory possibilities through this decolonial grammar, the paper raises problematics, ambiguities, and an impasse as the ‘decolonial turn’ sojourns in the global south(s). Yet, cognizant of Eurocentric modernity/coloniality’s violence and destruction, the paper closes by positing a decolonial politics of entangled hopes to re-articulate the decolonial in, for, alongside, and against the region.


Ali Kassem is a Lecturer in Sociology at the National University of Singapore, Singapore. Ali was previously postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World at the University of Edinburgh where he also taught at the School of Social and Political Science. Prior to that he was an early career fellow with the Arab Council for Social Sciences and the Carnegie Corporation of New York affiliated with the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut. He obtained his PhD in Sociology from the University of Sussex, UK where he also taught between 2018 and 2021. His book Islamophobia and Global Coloniality: the Lived Erasure of Visibly Muslim Women in Lebanon was published in 2023 with I.B. Tauris - Bloomsbury Academic and he is currently editing a book titled Arab-majority Worlds and (De)Coloniality: Across and Beyond with Bristol University Press.

Moderator: Aerin Lai (School of Social and Political Science)

This event is presented by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, in partnership with the Alwaleed Centre, GENDER.ED and RACE.ED.

This is a free event, which means we overbook to allow for no-shows and to avoid empty seats. While we generally do not have to turn people away, this does mean we cannot guarantee everyone a place. Admission is on a first come, first served basis.


This event will take place at IASH, 2 Hope Park Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9NW. Please see a map here:

The Seminar Room is on the first floor, and unfortunately IASH does not have a lift. If you have mobility issues and would like to discuss access, please contact [email protected] as soon as possible.


Event Venue & Nearby Stays

IASH, The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh, United Kingdom


GBP 0.00

Sharing is Caring: