I am currently writing a book about commemorations of Muslim colonial subjects in the British and French First World War centenary. This monograph, entitled We Will Re-Member Them: Decolonising the Memory of Muslims in World War I, considers how a century-old conflict widely perceived as a European civil war remains a catalyst for constructing collective identity in two post-imperial, multicultural nations. The war itself was a global conflict in which soldiers and labourers from Asia and Africa waged war on three continents, in the service of European nations who contested global hegemony amongst themselves. Yet the years immediately following the Armistice were marked by the violent reestablishment of spatial divisions between Europeans and colonial subjects, the affirmation of racialised tropes, and the brutal repression of anti-colonial movements. One hundred years later, I find that collective memory of the war is global: acknowledging the war’s transnational character reveals the fluidity of state borders and the limits of state sovereignty. Further, memories of the war’s imperial character reveal the nation’s historical dependence on people it does not claim as citizens, and the contingency of national values and ideals. Yet these memories, I find, are marginal. The dominant narrative of Muslim colonial subjects at war writes the nation’s own idea of its contemporary self onto the past. In this narrative, empire is rewritten as multiculturalism, and colonial soldiers are lauded as “good Muslims” who establish the conditions under which contemporary Muslims might belong to the nation.
My next project, Race and Police Violence: Causality in Global and Individual Perspective, examines the relationship between global processes of racialisation and state violence against black civilians. I will analyse how individual police killings of black civilians in the U.S. and UK have been represented in police reports, popular media, and social movements, and I will compare these to the discourses on police killings in Brazil and South Africa. My approach to data analysis will be both individual and global: rather than aggregating data on police killings, I will analyse a smaller sample of individual killings in detail. Yet through a critical analysis of the discourse surrounding them, I will also make sense of these individual killings as consequences of, and contributions to, global white supremacy.