Just received a review of my book “Islamophobia” which appeared in In-Spire, the Journal of Law, Poitics and Societies, Vol 6, No 1, Summer Special Edition 2011 and was written by Jeremy Kleidosty, University of St Andrews. I’m very happy with the review and have uploaded a pdf copy that you can read in full by clicking here.

I’ve also reproduced some of the best bits (naturally) below:

“Islamophobia, from its evocative cover to its engaging introduction, immediately draws the reader’s interest through the visual stimuli of an image of an Arab-looking man with stereotypical labels plastered all over his face and its discussion of controversial topics like the French ban of the face veil or niqab. This would be in keeping with its stated aim of “being both timely and relevant: to contribute to the better understanding of this ongoing and rapidly developing phenomenon” (p. 4). The book arguably achieves this relevance, not by discussing Islamophobia as a phenomenon or potential cures to this condition, but rather by squarely focusing on academic debates on the definition of Islamophobia.

Other recent books on Islamophobia, such as ‘Thinking Through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives’ or ‘Islamophobia: the challenge of pluralism in the 21st century’, take a very broad view of the term and combine various cases and analyses to formulate policy recommendations, providing a global sense of its meaning in practise. In contrast, Allen discusses these matters as just one part of painstakingly deriving a definition of Islamophobia, which could potentially make these types of surveys more effective and precise…

…chapters look in further detail at the attempt to understand and address the apparent increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Britain through the work of groups like the Runnymede Trust and the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. This is followed by a detailed critique of the methodology used in the Runnymede Report. Here, Allen’s expertise is amply demonstrated as he makes a compelling case that this seminal report, one which is frequently utilised by press and advocacy groups, actually commits many of the same errors of essentialising and victim-blaming that it seeks to understand and correct. Most effective is his observation that whilst it would be absurd to view a racially-motivated killing through the lens of how some black males exacerbate racial stereotypes and thus exacerbate racial tension, the same logic does not apply when studies into anti-Muslim sentiments and violence implicate actors seen as representative of Muslims in making these crimes more likely…

…Allen’s concluding remarks perfectly summarises the greatest strength of the book (its precision and careful approach to definition):

Having finally answered what is Islamophobia? by positing a suitable definition and conceptualisation, so a final question is necessary: that is, to what extent might this research impact upon Islamophobia as a contested concept in the public space?

This work will serve as an invaluable model of careful and methodical use of terminology and will be particularly helpful to scholars who study anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment in Western contexts. It establishes a strong foundation for future research that applies its definition to the real world occurrences of Islamophobia, which may allow it to fulfil its self-proclaimed aspirations of timeliness and relevance.”


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