HONR-330, Honors Capstone Tutorial

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2016


American Politics | History | Other Religion

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

This paper connects the Islamophobic discourse of the 2016 presidential primary candidates to that of past American politicians through a historical analysis of their rhetoric and policies towards Muslims. I argue that Western discourse about Islam has long appealed to what I refer to as the Muslim “xeno-archetype,” which is a recurring but unchanging understanding of Islam in the Western mind. This xeno-archetype theory is derived from Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism, but is distinct in that it explains why unique misconceptions of Islam existed long before European colonialism. The xeno-archetype consists of specific stereotypes and fears of a given ethnic or religious group that are constant in the Western conscience and recur in times of perceived crisis. I explain that the xeno-archetype specific to Muslims was passed down by Europeans to future Americans during colonization and greatly influenced the way American leaders have understood and interacted with Muslims both at home and abroad throughout the nation’s history. This analysis identifies the specific stereotypes of Islam that were held by past Americans and reveals that they are the same ones that have been expressed by the 2016 candidates, which allows Islamophobia to be understood as a recurring feature in the Euro-American tradition.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.