About the project

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Since September 11 2001, Muslim communities in Europe and America have come under increased scrutiny in a variety of cultural forms as part of a renewed concern to define and delimit the parameters of the nation and of western civil society more generally. This network will foster and support research into the cultural, artistic, social and legal structures which 'frame' contemporary debates about Muslims in the west. The network will bring together experts in various fields to interrogate the way Muslim subjects have been positioned and 'spoken for', and how the communities concerned have responded to these externally imposed definitions.

This network will be of interest to academics: researchers; students in a variety of disciplines including postcolonial studies, anthropology, law, and cultural studies; journalists and media practitioners; and interested members of the public. Its topical remit will contribute to an awareness of the shaping force of representation in a multicultural society, and will extend understanding of the processes by which such representations gain currency.

The international collaborative dimension will allow for comparative study of the discursive framing of Muslims in both Europe and America, understood in terms of its longer history and its contemporary manifestations. This will be facilitated by cooperation with the Working Group for the Study of Transnational Networks, University of California, Irvine, the Centre for Religion and Media at New York University, ISIM in the Netherlands, and CADIS-EHESS in Paris. The interdisciplinary remit allows for a broader perspective on issues of representation in both its political and aesthetic senses, with implications for policy-making and intercultural relations.

The project is funded as part of the AHRC Research Networks and Workshops Scheme, and is located at the University of East London. The Principal Investigator is Dr Peter Morey, Reader in Literature in the School of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies. The main Project Partner is Dr Amina Yaqin, Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies and Urdu at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

The specific questions which the seminar series and interactive website will address include the following:

  • How is the production and reception of images of Muslims governed?
  • How have the roles and conventions of such representations changed since 9/11?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of existing theoretical paradigms when addressing questions of representation and power?
  • How might we understand oppositional modes of Muslim representation, and how is the space for such forms negotiated?
  • How has the legal status of certain Muslim practices and structures been called into question, and how has this questioning been mediated?
  • How has the re-entrenchment of national belonging been used to question models of multiculturalism?