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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The prevailing definition of humiliation as a violation of human dignity or respect has assumed the status of common sense, despite its elusive and derivative content. models how the dominant definition can be denaturalized and even displaced to render legible figurations of humiliation in other bodies of knowledge. It specifically traces the career of the concept and phenomenon of humiliation across three corpora foundational to Islam, the Qur’an, the Ḥadīth, and Islamic law. These texts trace different agentic sources in various combinations depending on site, subject, and stakes. The result is not a linear account of the “evolution” of humiliation in Islam, but rather a spectrum of shifts and contingencies, continuities and reversals. These arguments are adduced not in support of an Islamic theory of humiliation, but as resources for a provisional account of humiliation as a hierarchical relation instantiated in the act and experience of imposed powerlessness. So understood, this analysis of Islamic sources is just one part of an ongoing investigation into the range of resources—located in multiple traditions, practices and corpora past and present—for building up a political theoretic conception of humiliation grounded in asymmetries of power.

Keywords: humiliation, Qur’an, Ḥadīth, Islamic law, language, moral philosophy, relation, tashhīr, jizya, hierarchy

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