How War Makes (and Unmakes) the Democratic State: Reading the Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West in a Populism Age
Forthcoming in War and Law in Literature (Alison LaCroix et al., eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2019)
15 Pages Posted: 7 May 2018 Last revised: 15 May 2018
Date Written: April 27, 2018
War makes the state, and war makes the state democratic—or so the conventional wisdom holds. But the wars of the twenty-first century will have a distinct complexion from wars of the century just passed. As war and democracy alike change, their relationship alters. This book chapter examines that relationship through the lens of two recent novels by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West. The protagonists of these novels stand in some fashion for the two main vectors by which war is perceived to, and indeed does, work a change to the democratic state—the terrorist and the migrant. The chapter explores how the role these figures play in the modern democratic imaginary, and how Hamid’s novels subvert and challenge that role.
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