Conna Ray is an MRes English Literary Research student at NTU. Her project will centre on representations (and misrepresentations) of Islam in the West.
As a postgraduate student, what does postcolonial studies mean to you? What motivated you to choose this course of study, and how do you see its relevance to the present day?
Postcolonial studies, to me, is a way of looking at the world, a lens through which to view daily life. The main thing that interests me about this field of study is its absolute and total relevance to almost every situation. Since becoming interested in, and therefore more educated in, postcolonial theories, things that I have questioned my whole life, such as racism and the way in which the media represent issues such as 9/11, for example, have been placed in a context which has completely changed my perception of the world and its history. I think postcolonial studies is a field of vital importance in the present day and is something that should be as widely taught as possible.
How does further study and research in the field fit into your career plans?
Ideally, further study and research would mean that I would eventually (fingers crossed!) be able to complete a PhD in the postcolonial field and hopefully go on to write more about the subject for a wider audience. I would ideally love to disseminate postcolonial theory to a non-academic audience, as I think it is a hugely important way of looking at the world that just does not get spoken about enough outside of elite circles.
What contribution do you think your research might make to understanding of these issues?
I am currently most fascinated by the way in which Islam as a religion and Muslims as individuals are represented in the West, through newspapers, documentary, texts and film. I am interested by the similarities between traditional colonial discourse and the way in which Islam is discussed in the present day. I am also keen to look at the reasons why most of the general populace would outright denounce colonial practices of the 19th century, such as slavery and violence, and yet would support Islamophobic policies and activities that have been escalating in the last quarter of a century. In short, I am motivated by the belief that Islamophobia is simply colonial interests operating in the ‘post’colonial era. By acknowledging this, the aim of my research would be to draw attention to these connections, thereby challenging the validity of both.
Interviewed by Sarah Pett, July 2015