Radical Distrust: A Cultural Analysis of the Emotional, Psychological and Linguistic Formations of Religious and Political Extremism

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of English

Abstract

This research programme serves to analyse the emotional and psychological formations of extreme beliefs through a comparative study of literary texts and performance culture across the areas of postcolonial and Middle Eastern studies.



It aims to confront the question of how security policies may be pursued in ways that do not serve to perpetuate the lack of trust that often constitutes a threat to security in the first place.



Drawing on psychoanalytic and postcolonial methodologies, the research sets out to identify the factors that bring about a radical disintegration of trust and to explain how this breakdown of trust leads to the search for compensatory discourses of authenticity that have the potential to lead to violence.



The programme is comprised of projects that will focus on global youth culture and its radicalisation and on literary and cultural representations of extremism, social segregation and alienation in the contexts of North Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East.



The research will also explore the role that music, youth culture, literature and performance may play in establishing new forms of connectivity

Publications


10 25 50
Awadalla, Maggie; March-Russell, Paul (2012) The Postcolonial Short Story: Contemporary Essays
Burkhalter, Thomas; Dickinson, Kay; Harbert, Benjamin J (2013) The Arab Avant-Garde: Music, Politics, Modernity
Caroline Rooney (Author) (2010) Arab hip hop in an international frame
Caroline Rooney (Author) (2010) Arab hip hop in an international frame in Orient
Caroline Rooney (Author) (2012) World Intifada in Wasafiri
 
Title Documentary Short: The Road to Midan Tahrir 
Description Interviews with writers and activists in Cairo 2010 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact It informs research on how writers anticipated the revolution. 
URL http://www.kent.ac.uk/english/research/commonground/Cairo.html
 
Description Professor Rooney's research programme investigates both the 'radical distrust' of political Islam on the part of the West and 'radical distrust' as a characteristic of extremist formations. The research set out to explore how such forms of mutually reinforcing distrust were serving to obscure alternative political movements, especially global youth mobilisation and Arab cultural activism. Therefore, the programme served to anticipate and came to participate culturally in the Egyptian revolution, further leading to involvement in All Party Parliamentary security briefings and input into the government's policy response to the Arab Spring. The research has also contributed to trust-building initiatives with mental health professionals and journalists in sectarian Lebanon
Exploitation Route There is scope to build on and use its methodologies of a psycho-affective approach to extremism and of inter-disciplinary deployment of liberation theory, cultural studies and Middle Eastern studies. Its theories of 'chronic disappointment', 'pariah elitism', the Arab avant-garde and global youth cultures are of ongoing use in understanding and responding to contemporary forms of radicalism and extremism. It also serves to differentiate between radicalism and extremism in a critique of the predominant discourse of radicalisation. This is significant for policies pertaining to instability in the Middle East. The programme also contributes to the increasing engagement with and use of arts activism.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy
URL http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/RES-071-27-0071/read
 
Description Foreign Affairs Select Committee on British Foreign Policy and the Arab Spring
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Submission of evidence on the foreseeability of the Arab Spring, the forces driving it and the implications for regional security with respect to Palestine. The evidence has informed the policy report produced on 19/07/2012 in which it is cited: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmfaff/80/8006.htm The recommendation that Palestinian aspirations for democracy ought to be endorsed is echoed by David Cameron in his speech to the United Jewish Israel Appeal on 15 October 2012.
URL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmfaff/80/8006.htm
 
Description GU All Party Parliamentary Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description ESRC/AHRC/BA visiting scholar from the Middle East
Amount £4,806 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 
Department ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen)
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2010 
End 09/2010
 
Description Leverhulme visiting professorship
Amount £20,858 (GBP)
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2011 
End 05/2011
 
Description Preserving Egypt's Cultural Heritage
Amount £36,565 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 02/2016 
End 11/2016
 
Description Egyptian literary culture and Egyptian modernity 
Organisation Cairo University
Department Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Country Egypt, Arab Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This two day international symposium (12-13 April 2010) entailed a collaboration between the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, University of Kent and the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Cairo University. It also entailed readings and talks by leading Egyptian writers.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Global Youth Cultures 
Organisation Canterbury Festival
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Global Youth Cultures performance day in association with the Canterbury Festival. This was mounted through the grant, and included in the programme of the Canterbury Festival to reach a non-academic audience.
Start Year 2009
 
Description The Siege of Beirut and the Ethics of Representation 
Organisation School of Advanced Study
Department Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution International conference on the representation of the 1982 Siege of Beirut in literature, art and journalism.
Collaborator Contribution N/A
Impact Book: The Ethics of Representation in Literature, Art, and Journalism: Transnational Responses to the Siege of Beirut, co-edited by Caroline Rooney and Rita Sakr (London and New York: Routledge, 2013). An Arabic translation of this volume, by Rita Sakr, will be published by Dar al-Adab in 2014. The output is multidisciplinary: literature, art, journalism, Middle Eastern studies, conflict studies, postcolonial studies, international relations, psychoanalysis.
Start Year 2010
 
Description 'Settler Cultures, Separatism and Extremism' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the first workshop in the Radical Distrust network series set up to debate distrust in relation to separatism and extremism and publicised through the Postcolonial Studies Association. Its focus was on settler cultures and separatism in South Africa and Palestine and on states of exception and emergency. It featured the work-in-progress of leading thinkers in this area.

It has informed further research by myself and colleagues on settler cultures
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Chronic disappointment and Pariah elitism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This paper for a research seminar explores the new concepts of 'chronic disappointment' and pariah elitism', building on the research of the article 'The disappointed of the earth'. Its source material is Arab literary culture. It sparked a long discussion afterwards.

The paper suggested that theories of 'radicalisation' in Egypt needed to take into account the widespread social unrest due to socio-economic frustrations and the undermining of human dignity. At the time this position and the methodology underpining it were considered unconventional, however, the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution provided justification of the arguments made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Chronic disappointment, pariah elitism and the formation of extreme beliefs in Arab literary discourse 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Research seminar presentation at the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW), University of Manchester, on 17/03/2010. The paper discussed the ways in which Egyptian novelists were analysing contemporary Egyptian society in terms of conditions of chronic disappointment and the search for dignity.

It generated retrospective recognition of the timeliness of the intervention, given the Egyptian Revolution a year later.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Church and society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Platform debate with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Rev. Michael Doe in conjunction with the production of 'Love the Sinner'

The NT recorded the talk for their education archives,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Days of Rage: Popular Imagination and a New Middle East in the Making 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This two day presentation on the creative outputs of the Arab Spring built on the PI's earlier collaboration with Cairo University and brought together academics and Egyptian arts activists. It was co-organised by herself, Monira Soliman and Walid El Hamamsy and built on an earlier symposium on Egyptian Literary Culture. Its focus was the use of popular culture in the 2011 uprisings and artists who had taken part in Tahrir Square art events presented their work. It paved the way for future collaborative work by the Citizen Academia Network (Imagining the Common Ground).

Future collaborations with Cairo colleagues
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Discourses of authenticity and poetic fidelity : Chenjerai Hove and Assia Djebar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Carnegie funded 'Locating African Cultures' workshop: paper on language and authoritarianism in Zimbabwe and Algeria

I was invited to deliver a plenary paper by the University of Porto as an extension of the above network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Doha Institute Workshop on Transnationalism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact I presented a paper on Arab-Jewish Friendship in North African literature and film, and took part in a 3 day international workshop exploring contemporary forms of Arab transnationalism.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Face to Face: Visual Cultures and Radical Distrust in the Middle East 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This Radical Distrust workshop (February 2011) constituted a collaboration between the University of Kent and the October Gallery, London. It was held in tandem with the opening of an exhibition by Leila Sharwa on terrorism and included the participation of writers, artists, curators and arts education practitioners. It was open to and attended by the general public.

Invitations to participate in further related debates and collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Fortress hypochondria : health and safety 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture at Tate Britain: Culture and Hypochondria event

It lead to inclusion in the Psychoanalysis and Politics network with subsequent events and publications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Gender, Separatism and Extremism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This second Radical Distrust workshop on separatism and extremism examined the role of gender identifications in religious fundamentalism and new forms of feminism within Islam. It brought together expertise on religious cults (INFORM), Arab feminist perspectives (speakers from Jordan and Egypt), psychoanalytic perspectives and biographical perspectives. Novelist Fadia Faqir also discussed literary perspectives and Baroness Uddin reflected on the policy implications of the day.

I have been invited to participate in related workshops on gender in Middle Eastern contexts
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Global youth cultures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our first event for the Radical Distrust project, the Global Youth Cultures conference, was held at the University of Kent on October 24-25 2009 and brought together academics, writers and spoken word artists to discuss youth cultures in a postcolonial context. By combining theoretical papers and performances, we hoped that the conference would serve to introduce academic faculty to contemporary youth culture, and vice versa, in an accessible environment.



The event was comprised of one day of academic discussion and readings, and a second day of musical and dramatic performances. It generated a future performance event at Al Sawy Culturewheel in Cairo (March 2010).

This event lead to staging The Rebel Cell in Cairo and it also lead to a Wasafiri special issue on Global Youth Cultures launched at the ICA with young performers. It has lead to an international networking of performance poets and to a promotion of their careers through further invitations to perform. It has helped to increase the visibility and understanding of youth cultures internationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2012
 
Description ICA outreach talk on 'the contemporary' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Prospective students were alerted to ways in which they might study the contemporary.

The profile of the Kent-ICA MA on The Contemporary has generated interest and uptake.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Interview with Nile TV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This interview of Rooney by Nile TV took place at the BRISMES 'Women and Revolution' workshop at Ain Shams university (March 2013), and concerned the importance of the role of women in the revolution and their expectations for reform. Nile TV is a major Egyptian TV Channel. The interview was for its English service on current affairs and culture.

Nile TV is a major Egyptian TV Channel. The interview was for its English service on current affairs and culture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Interview with Radio Cairo 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Rooney was interviewed for a current affairs programme hosted by Marwa Gadallah

Since I am not part of the Egyptian radio culture this is hard to ascertain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Kent hip hop workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A hip hop workshop conducted by Suhell Nafar of the Palestinian group DAM for creative writing students at the University of Kent.

I have written on the work of DAM in various contexts, and engaged with the hip hop culture in Cairo where we also mounted a workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Rebel Cell hip hop workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A hip hop workshop at El Sawy Culturewheel in Cairo was mounted with the participation of Blake Brandes, Dizraeli and Baba Brinkman. It taught the techniques of rapping and beat-boxing to Egyptian youth who maintained contact with the workshop leaders and sent updates on their participation in the Egyptian revolution.

One of those trained in the workshop went on to play a role as a performer in Tahrir Square as documented in a film.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Riots, revolutions and big societies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An article within Counterpunch newsletter which was widely read and stimulated responses

It was nominated as a top link by Huffington Post, and I was invited to contribute a longer version for a Special Issue on the London Riots
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/12/riots-revolutions-and-big-societies/
 
Description Russia Today TV Interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On the brink of the deposition of Morsi's government, I took part in Russia Today TV's Cross Talk current affairs programme which is broadcast to millions and the broadcast generated public discussion.

I am recognised as an informed commentator on the Egyptian revolution as is reflected in invitations to participate in various events: for example, cultural and political events mounted by the cultural bureau of the Egyptian Embassy; the launch of a new Egyptian political party.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://rt.com/shows/crosstalk/egypt-revolution-morsi-society-590/
 
Description Same sex cultures and pariah formations in North Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This paper was first presented at a postcolonial research seminar at Sussex, and discusses the question of queer identities in North Africa with reference to the work of Joseph Massad. It was subsequently requested for reading by Joseph Massad towards his ongoing research, and a further presentation of the paper was invited by the Centre for African Studies, Cambridge University.

I have been invited to speak on this research on 3 subsequent occasions at other universities engaged in work on gay rights in an international context.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2015
 
Description The Rebel Cell 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Rebel Cell is a hip hop play on terrorism, democracy and civil rights. The PI brought its performers and DJ to Cairo to stage a performance at El Sawy Culturewheel and mount an audience debate after the show. The audience called for: votes, democracy and change of government (a year before the revolution). Excerpts of the performance were broadcast by Nile TV and on El Sawy's radio.

The play was filmed by Nile TV which featured excerpts and interviews with the cast in an arts programme. It was also broadcast by Sakia online radio.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description The crusader's tragedy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Norway killings by Anders Breivik and the death of Amy Winehouse would seem to have little, if anything, to connect them, apart from sharing a fateful historical moment. And yet these events, happening alongside each other, compel cultural self-reflection on the kind of worlds in which a young man is compelled to go on a killing spree aimed primarily at youthful others and a creatively gifted young woman is compelled to destroy herself, whether by suicide or other forms of self-harming. This discussion generated public debate.

The article was commented on in blogs commending its insights
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/07/30/the-crusaders-tragedy/
 
Description The siege of Beirut and the ethics of representation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This event, mounted in collaboration with SOAS, brought together journalists, writers and academics to debate an ethics of representation with respect to traumatic events.

It lead to a publication by Routledge and further engagement with journalists and other professionals in Beirut
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Urban Spaces and Urban Disorder 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/Parliamentarians
Results and Impact Talk on a Global Uncertainties panel at RUSI to disseminate research to the public sector on the August riots in relation to the Egyptian revolution. Showcase of ideas towards security policies from RCUK fellows.

Showcase of ideas towards security policies from RCUK fellows.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Visa Stories 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a Radical Distrust network workshop organised on to present narratives on visa and immigration experiences. It arose through difficulties experienced on the Radical Distrust programme in obtaining visas for students from Iran and Iraq. It included the participation of Kent refugee society and former detainees. The event was organised by three postgraduate students under the PI's supervision and led to a publication.

It lead to a publication, Visa Stories, and collaborative activism with Kent Refugee Help
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012