Something Got Into Their Minds: The Rise of Radicalization Discourse in Canada
This dissertation examines the rise of radicalization discourse in Canada. Drawing on postcolonial theories of Orientalism and affect, I contend that radicalization is a racially-charged concept that characterizes anti-Western violence in ways that relieve Western states of culpability for their colonial provocations. Evidence of such provocations is diluted through prevailing radicalization discourses that inform counter-terrorism frameworks and shape popular understandings of terrorism. Such frameworks rely heavily on race-based assumptions painting Muslim-looking subjects and communities of colour as especially susceptible to extremism and terrorist violence. These assumptions construct an ostensibly scientific framework for radicalization that transforms mundane behaviours into “indicators” of suspiciousness and risk amongst people of colour. This leads to what I term a “pretrapment” logic whereby thoughts and behaviours racially tagged as “Muslim” are used to justify pre-emptive interventions designed to halt a future terrorist attack. Additionally, radicalization discourse paints Muslim communities as “suspicious allies” that are perceived as both breeding grounds for radicalization and necessary agents of surveillance for the state. Against this backdrop, sport is constructed as a key catalyst for deradicalization interventions on susceptible subjects who may otherwise slip into violent, extremist thoughts and action. Sport’s role in deradicalization helps augment colonial discourses that align with imperial myths of benevolence, western characterizations of Muslim culture as universally misogynistic, and the construction of Muslim-looking people as constant outsiders within western civilization.