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In an era of rampant Islamophobia, literary representations of Muslims and anti Muslim bigotry tell us a lot about changing concepts of cultural difference. In Islamophobia and the Novel (Columbia University Press, 2018), Peter Morey, Professor at the University of Birmingham, analyzes how recent works of fiction have framed and responded to the rise of anti-Muslim prejudice, showing how their portrayals of Muslims both reflect and refute the ideological preoccupations of media and politicians in the post-9/11 West. Morey discusses novels embodying a range of positions—from the avowedly secular to the religious, and from texts that appear to underwrite Western assumptions of cultural superiority to those that recognize and critique neoimperial impulses. Contemporary literature’s capacity to unveil the conflicted nature of anti-Muslim bigotry expands our range of resources to combat Islamophobia. This, in turn, might contribute to Islamophobia’s eventual dismantling. In our conversation we discussed anti-Muslim prejudice, the tension between narrative and power, literature and its relationship to Islamophobia, the “market for the Muslim,” stereotyping, authenticity and the burden of representation, aesthetic expectations, economic constraints, multiculturalism, securitization, effects of 9/11, the global novel, and Critical Muslim Literary Studies.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at email@example.com.
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