The humanity game: Art, Islam, and the war on terror

Jessica Winegar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


This essay examines the connections between art and politics in Middle East arts events in the U.S. since 9/11/2001. It critiques the universalist assumptions about humanity and the agentive capacity of art to build bridges of understanding in contexts of so-called civilizational conflict - assumptions that have strong roots in anthropology. By juxtaposing evidence of how the notion of "humanity" is deployed in exhibitions of Palestinian art with an analysis of the three more predominant types of arts events (historical Islamic art, Sufi arts, and contemporary art by Muslim women), the essay demonstrates how American secular elite discourse on Middle Eastern art corresponds to that of the "War on Terror.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-681
Number of pages31
JournalAnthropological Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008


  • Art
  • Humanism
  • Islam
  • Middle East
  • U.S. nationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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