Socio-cultural Construction of Recognition: The Discursive Representation of Islam and Muslims in the British Christian News Media

  • Gabriel Faimau

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

In what ways are Islam and Muslims represented in the British Christian media? How do such representations contribute to the (mis)recognition of Islam and Muslims? This study responds to these questions by discursively exploring various discourses in the British Christian news media that lead to representations of Islam and Muslim, from the perspective of the political theory of recognition. It argues that there is a significant representation of Islam and Muslims. This is indicated by the amount of documents and also the qualitative representations that focus on the discourses of interfaith dialogue, Islamic terrorism, Christian persecution and British Muslims. Based on these discourses, the representations of Islam and Muslims take multiple forms. Such multiple forms indicate how complex cultural and religious encounter is and how complex the representations of Islam and Muslims are. This study shows that the representations of Islam and Muslims follow three scenarios. Firstly, by appealing to the sameness, an equivalential identity is created by weakening internal differences while articulating the equivalent elements in the relationships between Islam and Christianity. Secondly, by absolutising the boundaries, differences become boundary markings that are non-negotiable through which Islam and Muslims are represented as a ‘total other’. Thirdly, the production of ‘another other’ occurs when the ‘near other’ is represented by narrowing the boundaries, following the argument that engaging in dialogue with Islam is a falsification of Christianity. Consequently, those who take the road of dialogue are represented as ‘another other’. It also argues that the political theory of recognition provides a more dialogical way in the study of socio-cultural representations than other post-colonial discourses, because it offers a frame to deal with both the ‘similarities’ and the ‘differences’. Here, recognition opens the door for repositioning and expanding boundaries and misrecognition may provoke a move to absolutising boundaries or producing ‘another other.’ This theory, however, needs to explore further the difference between respect and recognition, the dynamics of dialogue and recognition, the place of socio-cultural memory and the questions of risk and danger, trust and confidence.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorTariq Modood (Supervisor) & Thomas S D Osborne (Supervisor)

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