Darryl Li - "The Universal Enemy" - Aslı Bâli

Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Darryl Li

"Darryl Li offers superb insight into a figure that shapes so much law and policy but is little understood—the 'universal enemy,' the foreign Muslim fighter. Telling the stories of these mujahids, their motivations and aspirations, with exceptional empathy and detail, he challenges much of what we think we know."—Anthony Anghie, National University of Singapore and University of Utah

Darryl Li discusses The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity with Aslı Bâli. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT).

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: No contemporary figure is more demonized than the Islamist foreign fighter who wages jihad around the world. Spreading violence, disregarding national borders, and rejecting secular norms, so-called jihadists seem opposed to universalism itself. In a radical departure from conventional wisdom on the topic, The Universal Enemy argues that transnational jihadists are engaged in their own form of universalism: these fighters struggle to realize an Islamist vision directed at all of humanity, transcending racial and cultural difference. Anthropologist and attorney Darryl Li reconceptualizes jihad as armed transnational solidarity under conditions of American empire, revisiting a pivotal moment after the Cold War when ethnic cleansing in the Balkans dominated global headlines. Muslim volunteers came from distant lands to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside their co-religionists, offering themselves as an alternative to the US-led international community. Li highlights the parallels and overlaps between transnational jihads and other universalisms such as the War on Terror, United Nations peacekeeping, and socialist Non-Alignment. Developed from more than a decade of research with former fighters in a half-dozen countries, The Universal Enemy explores the relationship between jihad and American empire to shed critical light on both.

About the author: Darryl Li is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago. His work has been featured in the UCLA Law Review and Law & Social Inquiry, and he recently contributed to Ethnographies of U.S Empire from Duke University Press. He is at work on a second project on migrant military labor (frequently called "mercenaries" or "military contractors") across the Indian Ocean.

About the interlocutor: Aslı Ü. Bâli is the Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School. A faculty member of the UCLA School of Law since 2009, Bâli is Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the UCLA Law Promise Institute for Human Rights. Her teaching and research interests include public international law and comparative constitutional law, with a focus on the Middle East.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637