Global exception and Islamic exceptionalism

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Islamic exceptionalism (IE), or the discourse of Islam's inassimilable difference, legitimizes post-9/11 encounters with Islam and strategies of political and cultural domestication of the Islamic cultural zones (ICZs). It may also furnish new grounds for exclusions, enclosures and securitization. The aim of this paper is to explore the principal vectors of the field of vision generated by IE; to draw out any possible connections between IE and a presumed global exception (GE); and more broadly, to delineate how IE speaks to the perils of International Relations (IR)'s occlusion of the political in ICZs. In exploring the nexus between IE and GE, both the recursive character of GE and its constraints are noted, with an appreciation of cultural mappings nourishing GE. The key implication drawn is the need to avoid the temptation of an abstract notion of GE without ample recognition of its particularized instantiations, notably in reference to Islam.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)527-549
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Politics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • international relations
  • Islam
  • global exceptionalism
  • securitization
  • Islamic cultural zones


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