The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie:

Pakistani liberals and the War on Terror



Date: Thursday 21st May 2015
Event:Book Launch and Public Panel
Title: Seminar with Saadia Tour-‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: Pakistani liberals and the War on Terror’
Venue: Brunei Gallery Suite, SOAS, University of London

Discussions included in the panel will be what does it mean to be British born and Muslim and what should our roles be in the society we find ourselves in.


The 14-year old War on Terror has survived two different US administrations, and while it began as a neoconservative project, under Obama it emerged as a quintessentially liberal one. And so, ironically, while George W. Bush’s claim that the invasion of Afghanistan was about saving Afghan women was widely panned by US liberals, the mainstream liberal discourse today frames the WoT as a war for liberal values (Civilization) against Barbarism within which the ‘oppressed Muslim woman’ is an essential trope. Under Obama, Pakistan gained increasing importance within the WoT – both in terms of the Pakistani military’s role as official ally and as part of the expanded theatre of war referred to as ‘AfPak’. As in the US, liberal intellectuals have played a crucial role in the expansion and intensification of the WoT within Pakistan, with enormous consequences.


Saadia Toor is Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at the City University of New York. She is the author of The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan, published by Pluto Press, and co-editor of a special issue of Women's Studies Quarterly on the theme of Solidarity.



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