Orientalism, Islamophobia, and the Tsarnaev Case; or, What I Learned in Grad School, Part 2: The Micro

(Title image: Photo of law enforcement white board after Jahar’s arrest.)

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In this three-part podcast miniseries, Tom “Attorney Dad” Frizzell plays host and invites his daughter Heather to share what she learned in her Master’s program in International Studies at the University of Washington. She discusses how writing her academic thesis on Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev’s case helped her better understand not just the Boston Marathon bombing, but the War on Terror, American foreign policy, and systemic discrimination against Muslims.

In Part Two, she starts on the “micro”: what Orientalist and Islamophobic stereotypes are wielded by the US government in the War on Terror, and how they relate to Jahar’s treatment as a terrorism suspect. She dives into her process for writing her thesis, the hospital confession notes, prejudiced FBI protocols, the dubious nature of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, how the politics of policing Jahar relates to Guantanamo, and just how far the devastating effects of Orientalism reach. More of the micro will be discussed in Part Three.

Read Heather’s thesis here: Regimes of Truth: Why Everything “Known” About the Boston Marathon Bombing is Wrong

Episode Extras

Mentioned Publications

Influential Orientalist/Islamophobic Articles in the early 1990s
“The Clash of Civilizations?” by Samuel Huntington
“The Roots of Muslim Rage” by Bernard Lewis

Academic Literature on Gendered Stereotypes in Orientalism
“Orientalism and Middle East Feminist Studies” by Lila Abu-Lughod

Court Documents
The hospital confession notes – Jahar’s, the FBI agents’, the typed FBI 302s

Article on the scheme responsible for most of the detainees cycled through Guantanamo
“Guantanamo’s Darkest Secret” by Ben Taub (I mistakenly say this article is in the Atlantic. It was actually published by the New Yorker in April 2019)


Episode music: “The Complex” by Kevin MacLeod

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