Matan Kaminer received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2019.
Since its publication in 2019, Darryl Li’s The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity (Stanford University Press) has been the focus of a great deal of attention and debate. This historical ethnography of jihad fighters in 1990s Bosnia touches on some of the central questions of our era, using the plural concept of “universalisms” to bring many of the historical forces in this conflict into conversation with one another. Drawing on the author’s legal background and work as well as his anthropological training, the dense narrative connects Bosnia to the far-flung homes of the mujahideen, from North Africa to Southeast Asia, and to the carceral archipelago constructed by the US in its war on terror. Delving into the little-explored, everyday universalisms of Third World students and UN peacekeepers as well as jihad participants, Li demonstrates a wealth of empathy which can be as unsettling for radical readers as it is for liberals. Matan Kaminer of LeftEast and Dr. Li held the following exchange about the book and its lessons last month. An abridged version has been published by Allegra Lab.