Why War? / Rethinking Terrorism, Peace, and Politics

Samera Esmeir is an Assistant Professor in the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her present research focuses on British rule in Egypt and the powers of modern law constitutive of colonization. Her forthcoming book manuscript is titled Losing the Human: The Rise of Juridical Humanity in Colonial Egypt. Esmeir’s research interests also span issues around violence, war and the security state in the contemporary Middle East, and legal history, including the history of the colonial legal profession in Egypt, the colonial history of comparative law and the international legal histories of revolution. Her publications include “At Once Human and Not Human” (Gender and History, Summer 2011), “The Violence of non-Violence: Law and War in Iraq” (Journal of Law and Society, March 2007), “On Making Dehumanization Possible”(PMLA: The Journal of Modern Languages Association, October 2006), and “1948: History, Memory, Law” (Social Text 75, Summer 2003).

Saba Mahmood teaches in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (2005), and a co-author of Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (2009). Her work focuses on questions of secularism, religious politics, and gender in the Middle East. Mahmood is currently working on a book project entitled Politics of Religious Freedom: Contested Norms and Geopolitical Struggles that focuses on the Middle East and Europe. In 2010 she received a three-year grant from the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs for a comparative study of the right to religious liberty in global perspective.

Introduction: Judith Butler, Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley