C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminar - Constructing Muslim fundamentals and contesting Islamic fundamentalism: Listening to peace talk with Laura Kilby
Event contact Rachel Finch
Speaker: Laura Kilby (Psychology)
Title: Constructing Muslim fundamentals and contesting Islamic fundamentalism: Listening to peace talk
Peace psychology draws together research that in turn makes a contribution to the inter-disciplinary field of peace studies. Notably however, peace psychology is almost exclusively concerned with the study of violent conflict. Vollhardt and Bilali (2008) suggest that the value attached to exploring peace lags sadly behind a persistent bias toward studying the prevention or reduction of undesirable intergroup behaviours. The concept of peace more broadly, within Western discourse, is presented as operating as the antonym to violence and as the upshot of democracy. However, the notion that increased democracies results in greater peace remains un-substantiated, indeed the evidence to support this view is argued to be increasingly under duress (Nelson, 2003). Hence, a priori assumptions about what peace is, how peace and violence interact, and the societal conditions in which peace thrives are as unsubstantiated through research, as they are crucial to addressing violent conflict and developing strong communities.
The current research examines how the concept of peace is actively constructed by speakers when engaged in debates about terrorism. Through analysis of talk radio debates concerned with violent conflict it is possible to study how members themselves actually develop and utilise ideas about peace, and in doing so, an awareness of the relationship between peace and identity comes to the fore. This reflects a complex picture which serves to challenge dominant notions regarding what might be routinely treated as ‘fundamental’ to Muslim identity, and thereby offers an alternative reading of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ whilst simultaneously challenging the intuitively appealing, but ultimately problematic notion of peace operating as a straightforward antonym to violence.