18 June 2020
Professor Peter Gottschalk will join SOAS School of Arts as a Fulbright fellow next April. His project is on "Emotional Discourse in Transnational Islamophobia and Tolerance: Foundations in Globalizing News Media." Professor Gottschalk's project resonates with Dr Amina Yaqin's research with whom he has previously colllaborated for the RUCK funded Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue project. He will be working closely with her during his stay at SOAS.
Peter Gottschalk is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University (Connecticut, USA). His research concentrates on the dynamics of cultural interpretation and conflict at the intersections of Muslim, Hindu, Christian, secular, and scientific traditions. He is interested particularly in understanding how assumptions of mutual antagonism form between groups despite evidence of religious confluence, and how comparison and categories work in how we know the world. Besides exploring these themes through two books on the United States, he has done so in South Asia—with a focus on Bihar—in Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hindus and Muslims in British India (2012) and Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India (2000).
British imperialism facilitated the coalescence of a globalized Anglophone news network that reciprocally facilitated the empire’s globalizing political and anthropological visions. This network communicated ideas and emotions promoting Islamophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment, and religious tolerance in ways evident today. Using Anglophone newspapers published in India, the UK, and the US in the periods 1810-1819, 1870-1879, and 1920-1929, the research will examine both the imaginaries and the emotions perpetuated through reporting. Most importantly, it will consider how these helped constitute, reinforce, and challenge normative, secular regimes of social belonging and religious commitment.
Dr Amina Yaqin said, “I am looking forward to engaging with Professor Peter Gottschalk's project on globalising narratives of power in British colonial history. It will explore media representations of secular regimes and religious communities. His review of Anglophone reporting history promises new and urgent insights into the normalisation of transnational media stereotypes that contribute to Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice, as well as the reification of identity construction during the Raj. The broader project will interrogate critical links between media, emotion and culture impacted by power structures. Professor Gottschalk's work will be of interest to students and researchers across disciplinary departments at SOAS and our wider academic community. As we live in an era dominated by twitter politics and social media influencers, this type of work is much needed helping us to review historic media trends and how they continue to influence geopolitics and social identities.”