In her book In the Name of Women’s Rights (Duke University Press, 2017), Sara R. Farris examines the demands for women’s rights from an unlikely collection of right-wing nationalist political parties, neo-liberals, and some feminist theorists and policy makers. Focusing on early twenty-first-century France, Italy and the Netherlands, Farris labels this exploitation and co-optation of feminist themes by anti-Islamic and xenophobic campaigns as “femonationalism”. Her book offers a transnational and transversal perspective that allows us to reflect on the current backlash taking place across Europe against individuals and organizations who support decolonial, anti-racist, feminist and intersectional positions. Presented as a necessary response to a crisis of values by sections of the media and by political forces ranging from the far right to the secularist left, these attacks translate into the production of new, reactionary laws that fuel concrete acts of islamophobia, racism and discrimination.

In Identifying as Arab in Canada (Fenwood Publishing, 2020),1 Houda Asal explores the migration from Machrek (the Middle East) to Canada from the late nineteenth century through the 1970s. She examines the public, collective existence “Arabs” created in Canada in order to analyse their political mobilization and understand both the identity they have constructed for themselves here and the identity that has been constructed for them by the Canadian state. After Houda Asal received her PhD from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, she pursued her research at McGill University before coming back to France where she now works as an independent researcher on racism, islamophobia and discriminations. She is currently preparing an essay analyzing the circulation of the terms “islamophobia” and “separatism” and its translations in French, English and Arabic languages; and how it reflects or crystallizes the current conflicts over so-called French Republican values and, more broadly, the generalization of unabashed islamophobia in Europe, blurring traditional political divides (to be published on this summer).

Both Qalqalah قلقلة and Hostile Environment(s) were founded in response to “hostile” political environments and discourses pervading our respective working contexts. We are interested in the use and misuse of language in this political context; in how certain terms are misinterpreted, confiscated or repurposed in order to serve ideological agendas; and how translation and mistranslation (of vocabularies, discourses and ideas) play a role in that. The event “In the Name of… Femonationalism and Islamophobia in Europe” is part of a series of commissions, conversations and events respectively produced by each of our platforms to address these issues, as an attempt to reclaim an alternative and emancipatory use of language and translation within these contexts.

Hostile Environment(s) is a platform developed out of research by architect Lorenzo Pezzani (Forensic Oceanography / Goldsmiths, London) and is co-edited with Silvia Franceschini (curator, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture, Hasselt), Roberto Gigliotti (professor, Unibz – Faculty of Design and Art, Bolzano) and Emanuele Guidi (artistic director of arge/kunst, Bolzano). Qalqalah قلقلة is an independent trilingual editorial and curatorial platform founded in 2018 in France and collectively run by Line Ajan, Virginie Bobin, Montasser Drissi, Victorine Grataloup, Vir Andres Hera and Salma Mochtari.