CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

In the last five years of her life, the journalist and writer Oriana Fallaci (1929-2006) published three strongly Islamophobic pamphlets, which were widely acclaimed in Italy. They sold millions of copies and played a major role in structuring a national debate on intercultural relations and the supposedly impossible integration of Muslims. How was this popular success achieved? How did Fallaci’s anti-Muslim positions gain such legitimacy and influence? We answer these questions in several successive stages. The introduction situates our analysis at the intersection between the sociology of Islamophobia and the sociology of intellectuals (and journalism). The first section (1) then presents a brief overview of The Trilogy and explains why, even in Italy, the study of its reception has been neglected by the social sciences. While detailing their economic and political contexts, the modalities of Fallaci’s success are next analyzed by considering (2) the author’s strategies in establishing her public legitimacy through a progressive construction of charisma and on a posture totalizing all the different forms of intellectuals’ engagement; (3) the manner in which Fallaci’s enduring multipositionality in different spaces (journalistic, literary, etc.) is based on a system of cross guarantees and the support of mass media, and largely determined the positive reception her books received; and finally (4) how the affective attachment she aroused in many of her readers has contributed to the (re)configuration of their anti-Muslim attitudes.


  • Italy
  • intellectuals
  • xenophobia
  • islam
  • legitimization
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