The Globality of Af-Pak

U.S. Empire and the Muslim Problem

Authored by: Junaid Rana

The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738255
eBook ISBN: 9781315817514
Adobe ISBN: 9781317813927


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In this essay, I elaborate the theoretical insights of anti-Muslim racism and the analytical approach of relationality to describe how scholarship in Asian American Studies and related fields addresses the challenge of these terms. I then briefly describe recent shifts in urban spatialization that are intertwined in how the global War on Terror impacts patterns of migration and habitation in the foundational global city of the U.S. settler state, New York City, to provide an example of the racial process of globality. To do so, I draw on the U.S. imperial military term of “Af-Pak” as a geographic descriptor that collapses a number of global terms of raciality that build upon prior forms of colonial warfare under British Empire and the on-going renewal of the imperial Great Game. 1 The term Af-Pak deploys a spatial geography in the scales of the nationstate that functions as a racial common sense of globality. It is a term that names as much as it hides. It refers to the assumptions of militancy mapped for the purposes of strategic containment by the warfare state. And through this sublimated category, the term Af-Pak represents a violence that is continuous in a process of elimination—a euphemism for a site of genocidal warfare. With the implicit narrative of imperial genocide embedded in this term of Af-Pak, what exactly does it signify beyond geographic terms of mapping and identification? And how might this term be useful in thinking through the processes of global racial formation, imperialism, and settler colonialism?

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