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UEL professor praised by Times Higher Education for cutting-edge work

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Professor Peter Morey earns plaudit for postcolonial research

A Times Higher Education article has praised research by a UEL professor on intercultural relations for being at the cutting edge of Postcolonial Studies.

A THE report from a recent workshop at the University of London said “perhaps the keenest response” to a call by the discipline’s leaders for greater public engagement came during the presentation of a paper by UEL’s Professor Peter Morey and collaborator Dr Amina Yaqin, a senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Professor Morey and Dr Yaqin drew on insights gleaned from their project, ‘Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogues’, which explores the conditions necessary to develop intercultural trust in the modern world. The work is funded by a prestigious Research Councils UK grant.

“I think the value of our work is in its twin qualities of critiquing neo-imperial Islamophobia – in attitudes and in policy – while also looking at intercultural trust building,” said Professor Morey, who is based at the School of Arts and Digital Industries.

“Our approach has been to look across disciplines and spheres of activity, seeing how trust is built in civil society, in culture and the arts and business and finance, on the understanding that each of these areas depends on relationships of trust.

“Finding out more about successful trust-building in one might help us see how trust can be more effectively nurtured in another”.

The THE article looked at the ways in which postcolonial scholars are taking their discipline – which aims to analyse, explain, and respond to the cultural legacies of colonialism and imperialism – beyond “the comfort zone of literary theory”. 

Professor Morey’s research includes working with community arts groups to explore how trust is created in potentially tense contexts. He has observed that the principles of trust-building which apply to individual interactions also hold true of bonds between different constituent parts of a group or groups. 

“We found that a degree of cooperative mutual vulnerability was at the heart of the successful overcoming of potentially crippling differences,” he said.

The work has both a theoretical dimension and a practical side, he added. It produced, for instance, a toolkit for building intercultural trust which Professor Morey and Dr Yaqin hope to build on. 

Postcolonialism is uniquely placed to embrace the challenges of the 21st century, Professor Morey said. His research, in particular, offers a template for exploring how mutual dependency is a feature of the modern world, not only in western multicultural societies but globally.

“Postcolonialism should continue to take up the challenge of pursuing freedom and global political equality, but also pay greater attention to the interconnected vulnerability that we all share in an ever-shrinking world,” he said.