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"Blood Sacrifice and the Myth of the Fallen Muslim Soldier"

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Edward B. Bunn S.J. Intercultural Center

ICC #270

Georgetown University

Washington, DC 20057

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One ultimate sign of political assimilation is the willingness of citizens to sacrifice themselves in battle for their nation. It is so central to nation-making that such sacrifices become the stuff of songs, memorials, and even myths. In the U.S. Presidential elections of 2008 and 2016, the blood sacrifice of two fallen soldiers named Khan was invoked by U.S. politicians such as Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton, who conjured images of these soldiers’ graves and memories of their lives in order to perform their commitment to the ideals of a liberal, multicultural consensus. By focusing on the incorporation of foreign Muslim blood into the nation, however, these politicians offered a partial, ambiguous acceptance—one that both included and excluded Muslims from the American body politic. The talk will conclude by showing the limited effectiveness of this myth in national discourse as supporters of Donald Trump and some Muslim activists rejected its authority.


Edward E. Curtis IV is Millennium Chair of the Liberal Arts & Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). His ten books on Islam and Muslims in the United States and the African Diaspora have been called “essential,” “exemplary,” “approachable,” “groundbreaking,” “must-read,” “wonderful,” and “a model of clarity.” Curtis’ Muslims in America: A Short History (Oxford, 2009) was named one of the best 100 books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly, and his two-volume Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History was deemed one of the “best reference works of 2010” by Library Journal. Curtis is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the American Academy of Religion, and the National Humanities Center. Along with Sylvester Johnson, he is also founding co-editor of the Journal of Africana Religions.

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Edward B. Bunn S.J. Intercultural Center

ICC #270

Georgetown University

Washington, DC 20057

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