Islamophobia Reconsidered: Approaching Emotions, Affects, and Historical Layers of Orientalism in the Study of Religion

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Lorenz Trein Interfaculty Programme for the Study of Religion Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 Munich Germany

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The article challenges the unexplained subject matter of emotions and affects in the study of Islamophobia. As a first step, I will pinpoint how scholars in the field of political and social sciences construe affective dimensions of Islamophobia as irrational in opposition to rational behavior and interest in politics and thereby virtually exclude emotions and affects as suitable subjects from scholarly discourse. In contrast, I will suggest analyzing Islamophobic discourse in line with approaches defining affects and emotions both as historically and linguistically mediated. Therefore, particular attention is given to a historiographical approach to emotions with regard to a theory of practice and to the so-called ‘affective turn’ in the field of religion. Furthermore, I am arguing that a distinct historiographical stance towards Islamophobia and emotions in the study of religion allows us to readdress historical (e.g., colonial, Orientalist, and postcolonial) layers structuring debates on Islam until today.

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