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Race, Religion and Difference in the Nineteenth Century

October 2021 – July 2022

This interdisciplinary seminar programme explores how multiple discourses on race and religion intersected in the global nineteenth century, and generated, reinforced and/or challenged notions of human difference. How did nineteenth-century anti-Catholicism conjugate with opposition to antisemitism? In what ways were campaigns against the enslavement of Black people and Islamophobia mutually constitutive?

These are the kinds of questions we seek to investigate, across different disciplines, geographies and media. Our discussion also aims to complicate our scholarly understanding of a number of working categories – nation and empire, barbarism and civilisation, domination and resistance – and is given added urgency by the pressures of the contemporary moment.

Unfinished Business: Antisemitism, Racial Capitalism, and the Long Age of Empire

Webinar | For Scholars

15th October, 2021

Unfinished Business: Antisemitism, Racial Capitalism, and the Long Age of Empire

Dorian Bell, University of California, Santa Cruz

The historical relationship between antisemitism and Orientalism is usually understood according to their overlapping representations of Jews and Muslims. In this talk, Dorian Bell will begin by asking whether nineteenth­ century French antisemitism and Orientalism might also be considered from the standpoint of a functional continuity.

The Civic Gospel and Images of Islam: Race, Religion and Difference on Display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, c.1885
Presented by the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain, 1885.

Webinar | For Scholars

12th November, 2021

The Civic Gospel and Images of Islam: Race, Religion and Difference on Display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, c.1885

Kate Nichols, University of Birmingham

William Müller’s 1843 Prayers in the Desert is widely referred to as the first British painting to show Muslims at prayer, and it was undoubtedly one of the earliest to do so. Kate Nichols will explore what Prayers in the Desert might tell us about Victorian understandings of Islam, and how the display of this painting created dialogues about race, religion and difference in the supposedly secular context of the museum.

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