Rabea Khan

I have recently completed my PhD in International Relations at the University of St Andrews. My doctoral thesis was entitled the The Gendered Coloniality of the Religious Terrorism Thesis. In it I analysed the selective way in which the religious label is being used and applied in Terrorism Studies and argue that the category ‘religious terrorism’ has a colonial origin and that its use and application continues to serve a colonial function. The category ‘religious terrorism’ is not only applied very arbitrarily within Terrorism Studies, it also builds on colonial and racist knowledge about ‘religion’. My frustration with the problematic and ‘common-sense’ assumptions about ‘religion’ which are so commonplace in the disciplines of International Relations and Terrorism Studies, inspired me to dig deeper into the study of ‘religion’ before returning to the study of ‘religious terrorism’ for my PhD. My PhD project therefore brought together the disciplines of Critical Terrorism Studies and Critical Religion – two disciplines who have very similar research agendas yet have not been in conversation with each other.

My first publication with Critical Research on Religion argues a point about ‘religion’ that I have been exploring since my Masters when I first started my research into the problematic ways in which ‘religious terrorism’ has been discussed and presented in Terrorism Studies. In “Speaking religion through a gender code: the discursive power and gendered-racial implications of the religious label”, I argue that the modern category ‘religion’ is gendered discursively as well as historically. “Religion”, in modernity (or colonial-modernity)is a feminised category. The use of ‘religion’ in discourse, then, always has gendered implications and feminises actors, bodies and concepts imagined or labelled as ‘religious’. For a brief summary of one of the main arguments I make in this article, please see my blog post here.


Twitter: @RabeaMKhan

Research Interests

Critical Terrorism Studies, Critical Religion, Gender, Post- and De-colonial Theory, Critical Discourse Analysis


Rabea M. Khan (2021): Race, coloniality and the post 9/11 counter-discourse: Critical Terrorism Studies and the reproduction of the Islam -Terrorism discourse, Critical Studies on Terrorism. DOI: 10.1080/17539153.2021.1983112

Khan, Rabea M. 2021. “Speaking ‘religion’ through a gender code: The discursive power and gendered-racial implications of the religious label.” Critical Research on Religion. DOI: 10.1177/20503032211015302

Khan, Rabea M. 2019. “Book Review: Religion and international security.” Critical Studies on Terrorism, 12:4, 755-757, DOI: 10.1080/17539153.2019.1606387