Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Petra Rethmann


Susie O'Brien



Committee Member

Kee Yong


This study explores the current socio-political context of the Netherlands through an analysis of Fitna: The Movie (2008), the online video produced by right-wing politician Geert Wilders. I frame the field of analysis as an affective economy of uncertainty in the country, manifesting in the increasing visibility of, for instance, anti-Islam sentiment, declarations of national identity crisis, and public figures claiming to speak on behalf of the “real” Dutch, in the public realm.

With photographic footage of Muslims condoning and conducting violence displayed alongside Quranic verses, and a blatant appeal to viewers to “Stop Islamization. Defend our freedom”, Fitna is both product and visualization of the country’s affective economy. To the extent that the conventions and codes of its context shape Fitna’s form and content, the movie provides a visualization of uncertainty in the Netherlands.

Fitna constitutes both the target and the lens of this analysis. I refract a close attention to the movie’s montage editing, violated/violent images, and use of photographs through the concepts of fear, offense and truth(-telling), respectively. Taking the movie as lens, my analysis elaborates: the experiential dimension of uncertainty, as the disorientation of globalizing modernity; the key figures through which uncertainty circulates, including nation, religion, Islamization and depillarization; and the affect’s primary representational mode as truth telling performance.

Rather than explaining (away) opposition to Islam in, or the affective economy of, the Netherlands, this seeks to explore and experiment. I explore the character and mechanics of an affective economy through an experimental methodology centered on a single visual object. Given these objectives, the study closes with reflections upon the potentials and pitfalls of an analysis of Fitna: The Movie, with particular respect to popular narratives recounting the movie’s alleged failure.

McMaster University Library