The Poverty of Apologism: The British Left, Feminism and the Islamic Right

Stephen Cowden

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This discussion seeks to understand why sections of the British Left have often uncritically allied themselves with Islamist groups which I argue have a political position on the extreme right. I consider the Historical Materialism conference in November 2015 where such views were advanced, and set this in the context of the way the 'War On Terror' has created the conditions for alliance of groupings with utterly opposed values and political approaches, other than their hostility to US foreign policy. I argue that such a political alliance is achieved through the disregard of the impact of Islamist politics on women specifically, resulting in a politics where black and Asian feminist groups which criticise religious dominance are repudiated by the erstwhile allies on the Left
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)67-80
Number of pages13
JournalFeminist Dissent
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Stephen Cowden is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Coventry University. His research areas encompass Social Work Theory and Practice, Critical Pedagogy and the sociology of religious fundamentalism and he has published in all these three areas. In 2012 with Gurnam Singh he published 'Acts of Knowing: Critical Pedagogy In Against and Beyond the University', and 'The Practice of Equality: Jacques Ranciere and Critical Pedagogy' is forthcoming in 2018. He is a member of the Feminist Dissent editorial group.


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