A quick post to announce the publication of another new article, “Between Critical and Uncritical Understandings: A Case Study Analyzing the Claims of Islamophobia Made in the Context of the Proposed ‘Super-Mosque’ in Dudley, England”. As with a few of my other recent articles, this is ‘open access’ despite being published in the peer reviewed academic journal, Societies. If interested therefore, you can download a copy of the article for FREE here.
If you want to know what the article is about before downloading, I’ve pasted the abstract below:
Research highlights how usage and claims of Islamophobia tend to be simplistic and without nuance. Using a case study approach, this article considers the claims of Islamophobia made in relation to the proposed Dudley ‘super-mosque’. Setting out a narrative of the ‘super-mosque’, this article draws upon primary and secondary research to consider the claims and discourses of the major actors in the Dudley setting: the Dudley Muslim Association, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, the far-right especially the British National Party and the English Defence League, as well as individual political figures. Considering each in detail, this article seeks to evaluate the extent to which each of the actors and the claims of Islamophobia made against them might be valid. As well as exploring claims of Islamophobia within a ‘real’ environment, this article seeks to critically engage the opposition shown towards the mosque, the way in which the opposition campaigns were mobilized and engineered, and how the ideological meanings of Islamophobia was able to be readily utilized to validate and justify such opposition. In doing so, this article concludes that the claims and usage of Islamophobia was weak and that a more critical and nuanced usage of the term is urgently required.
Open access, it’s the future !!!
Yesterday I was invited to speak about Englishness following a specially staged performance of ‘Redcrosse’. You can read more about the ‘Redcrosse’ project here but in essence, ‘Redcrosse’ is an attempt to reaffirm Englishness and St. George by the Birmingham-based Shakespearean expert Professor Ewan Fernie through an innovative creative work which is partly an original arts event, partly a groundbreaking religious service.
After yesterday’s performance, a number of individuals were asked to give a talk which reflected on what it meant to them to be ‘English’. After the talks, an open Q&A session was held.
Reproduced below is a pretty accurate transcript of my talk:
“Thank you for inviting me to speak this evening.
As some of you will know, for the past 13 years or so I’ve been researching the phenomenon and manifestation of Islamophobia or anti-Muslim expressions and sentiments. Along with that, I’ve also explored issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, Britishness and more importantly, the problems associated with these.
Of course my research is highly contentious, emotive and at times, brings out the worse in people. This has resulted in me regularly receiving abuse.
So when I was invited to speak, it immediately reminded me of my favourite piece of abuse from recent years. Shortly after my book was published, I received an email from an EDL supporter who asked me:
“How can a man who’s ethnically English hate his country so much?”
A quick post to direct people to an article I’ve just had published on the Concilio CIC website. You can read the article by clicking here.
For those of you who don’t know, Concilio CIC describes itself as “a One Stop Information Source on the Activities of Far Right Groups in the United Kingdom”. But that doesn’t really do it justice.
Concilio CIC is a consortium whose partners include social researchers and academics, civil society organisations, and various community activists and practitioners who are undertaking work on Far Right extremist groups and raising awareness of their activities. The consortium looks at how faith-based symbolism and community engagement is being used by Far Right groups to cause divides between faith communities, as well as how international networks such as the ‘Counter-Jihadist’ Network are making an impact here in the UK. If you want to know more about Concilio CIC, then you can visit their website by clicking here.
To whet your appetite, here’s the opening paragraph from the article:
“The atrocities committed by Anders Breivik in Norway last year shocked many. Motivated by an explicit hatred of Islam and a belief in the creeping ‘Islamification’ of Europe, Breivik’s justification for such heinous crimes were far from unique. In fact, much of Breivik’s rhetoric had clear resonance with many organisations, groups and individuals that identify with far-right and neo-Nazi ideologies”
To continue reading, click here.
You can read the article on the University website by clicking here.
The piece is also reproduced below:
This week as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science 2011, I will be hosting the event, “Faith in the City: communities, regeneration, interaction”. The event sets out to explore the way in which faith inspires and influences people to live, work and act in the diverse, vibrant urban space that is today’s Birmingham. Despite Alastair Campbell stating the British “don’t do God”, the event is interesting to many.
Faith – whether one has it or not – is more important and topical today than it has been for decades. As the theology think-tank Theos recently noted, “religious identity is a feature of national and international affairs today in a way that was unexpected, indeed unimaginable, just twenty years ago”.
This is not to suggest that faith and religion are any less contentious or emotive than they have ever been, on the contrary. But what it does show is the timeliness and relevance of faith to Britain, and British people, in the 21st century.
Subjectively referencing the 2001 Census, an overwhelming majority of British people identify themselves as Christian (71.6%). These figures can however be misleading as there is a disparity between identification and practice with only about 2% of the population regularly attending church. Grace Davie describes this as ‘believing without belonging’. For her, the majority of Britons are increasingly drifting away from traditional institutional forms of religion to more personal forms of faith and spirituality.
However, identification remains. Last month’s Integrated Household Survey reaffirms that three Britons identify themselves as Christian for every one that does not. Perhaps surprisingly, this is also true amongst the young: 59% of 16-24 year-olds and 60% of under-16s identify themselves as being Christian.
Maybe this accounts for the reason that, since the turn of the century, more new churches than Starbucks have opened across the UK, more Britons believe in heaven now than they did in 1970, and the number of adult Christian baptisms is rising year-on-year. And even though overall church attendance remains in decline, that decline is slowing. Today, a third of all churches are reporting growth.
“The sheer magnitude of that one day makes it near impossible to respond to such a simple yet deeply profound question. Suggesting that 9/11 changed everything cannot adequately be communicated without resorting to exaggeration; suggesting that it did not, sounds little more than flippant or dismissive.
You can read the article on the University website by clicking here.
There is also an online poll connected to the opinion piece. You can vote on this by clicking here.
And if you don’t fancy either of those, you can read the piece below:
Do you agree that the UK has ignored the threat from the far right?
Dr Chris Allen
“As news began to break about the atrocities committed in Oslo and Utøya on 22 July, a number of media outlets began to suggest that Al-Qaeda (AQ) was behind the attacks. Disparate reasons were put forward as to why this might be so: Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan and Libya, a recent decision to deport a Muslim cleric and the decision of a Norwegian newspaper to reprint the Danish ‘Prophet Muhammad cartoons’. The next morning, The Sun newspaper was emblazoned with the headline, “Norway’s 9/11”.