Radical Skin/Moderate Masks Book Launch

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You are invited to attend the Sydney Book Launch for Yassir Morsi’s Radical Skin/Moderate Masks: De-radicalising the Muslim and Racism in Post-racial Societies.

The author, Yassir Morsi will be in conversation with Randa Abdel-Fattah, author of Islamophobia and Everyday Multiculturalism in Australia

Radical Skin, Moderate Masks explores a voice trapped by the War on Terror. How can a Muslim speak about politics? And, in what tone can they argue? In today’s climate can they “talk back” without being defined as a moderate or radical? And, what do the conditions put on their political choices reveal about liberalism and its deep and historical relationship with racism? This timely work looks at ongoing debates and how they call for Muslims to engage in a “de-radicalisation” of their voice and identities. The author takes his lessons from Fanon and uses them to make sense of his many readings of Said’s Orientalism. He reflects on the personal and scholarly difficulty of writing this very book. An autoethnography follows. It shows (rather than tells of) the felt demand to use a pleasing “Apollonian” liberalism. This approved language, however, erases a Muslim’s ability to talk about the “Dionysian” more Asiatic parts of their faith and politics.

“Look, a Muslim!” Thus Yassir Morsi brilliantly recasts Franz Fanon (and Edward Said), offering in Radical Skin, Moderate Masks a dense, searching and daring piece of writing. This remarkable auto-ethnography takes upon itself the impossible task of correcting “the ugly image of a violent Islam.” Without illusions and without cynicism, Morsi confronts the image. He scrutinizes the voices and faces, the gestures and the dress, the masks and the contortions of those called upon to speak, respond, reassure and assuage, disprove, condemn, apologize, vanish, affirm, confirm, defend, figure and disfigure themselves and others in the media or in the museum, in public or in private, in books and in performances. This is an urgent and welcoming book, a powerful and exemplary iteration of the imperative to “know thyself.”
Gil Anidjar, Professor in the Departments of Religion, the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS), Columbia University