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Thomas Serres – Reflections on Abject Victimhood and the Impossibility of Post-Islamism: The trajectory of the Rachad Movement

October 13, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm  |  Virtual and In Person


This presentation looks at the trajectory of former Algerian Islamists belonging to the opposition movement Rachad, who denounce state exactions perpetrated during the civil war of the 1990s. In so doing, the talk focuses on the notion of “abject victimhood,” to think about the legal and political challenges faced by actors once associated with an Islamist insurgency. Moreover, it shows how the production of abjection and that of victimhood are both entangled and conflicting, as the former serves to restore state power, while the latter supports revolutionary claims. This discussion also questions the possibility of a genuine form of “post-Islamism” in a context characterized by the impunity of state actors and the impossibility for those associated with political Islam to escape the vilifying discourses associated with counter-terrorism.


Thomas Serres is an Assistant Professor in the Politics department at UCSC. His research spans the field of Middle Eastern studies, critical security studies and comparative politics, and combines an ethnographic approach with a conceptual apparatus inspired by critical theory. He is particularly interested in the effects of protracted and entangled crises (popular uprisings, “war on terror,” refugee crisis, neoliberalization) in North Africa and beyond. His first book, entitled The Suspended Disaster: Governance by Catastrophization in Bouteflika’s Algeria, studies Algerian politics as a system of governance based on the management of a seemingly never-ending crisis and the systematic endangerment of the political order. An updated and expanded version of this book is currently under contract with Columbia University Press, after the French version was published with Karthala in 2019. Thomas has also published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Middle East Critique, Interdisciplinary Political Studies and L’Année du Maghreb. Lastly, he has also co-edited a volume entitled North Africa and the Making of Europe: Governance, Institutions, Culture, which was published by Bloomsbury Academic Publishing in 2018.

The Center for Cultural Studies hosts a weekly Wednesday colloquium featuring work by faculty and visitors. We gather at 12:00 PM, with presentations beginning at 12:15 PM.

For Fall 2021, the colloquium will take a hybrid format. Attendees have the option to attend in person in Humanities 210 or to watch the presentation on zoom. Those who attend in person must adhere to the campus mask mandate for all indoor activities and must complete UCSC’s symptom-check form before coming to campus. In person attendees are asked to please arrive at 12pm so that the event coordinators can verify the symptom check has been completed. To attend remotely via zoom, please RSVP in advance, and you will receive a zoom link on the morning of the colloquium. In most cases, speakers will appear remotely so that they will not have to present wearing a mask. To RSVP for the full Fall colloquium series, please use this form. If you have any questions about the colloquium, please contact Piper Milton (

Staff assistance is provided by The Humanities Institute.


October 13, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm