The do's and don'ts of Impact: The Transnationalizing Faith Project as a Case Study in Reaching Non-Academic Audiences

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Since 2015, Dr. James Hodkinson’s multi-modal 'Transnationalizing Faith' project has sought to engage non-academic audiences with insights gained from his research on Islam in German history. James’s work traces the diverging tendencies that emerge from German cultural representations of Islam (1770-1918), uncovering both Islamophobic tendencies and the drive to ‘other’ Islam, though also the attempt by literary writers, artists and scholars to move beyond binary or antagonistic models of Islam and the West.

But of what value are these (scholarly) insights to non-academics? Whilst they speak well to the audiences who have come to his public lectures, exhibitions and attend the academically ambitious, privileged schools he has visited, how has James made his work reach and seem meaningful to the more sceptical and fractious audiences, Muslim and non-Muslim, audiences in deprived urban communities in the UK? This talk will relate the journey that has taken him from working in a safer, para-academic contexts to his work with community groups, practising artists within hard-to-reach communities in Birmingham and Coventry.  Whilst it refutes the idea that impact projects come with a fixed list of “do’s" and “don’ts", the talk will outline the pros and cons of such work, highlighting pitfalls and offering tips on how to achieve and record ‘impact’ in its many forms. James will ask how we can adjust the ways in which we work to address the needs of local communities via their own idioms, chiefly by finding and collaborating with suitable interlocutors within those audiences.

Please reserve your place by emailing

Complementing this workshop is the following touring exhibition which will be on display in the Newman Building - details to follow:

Transnationalizing Faith. Following Islam through German History, 1770-1918: The Relevance for Contemporary Britain.

This exhibition invites you to look at Islam through the eyes of the German- speaking world. It takes you on a journey through the rst phase of modern German history, starting in around 1770 and moving through to the end of the First World War in 1918. During that time Germany went from being an idealistic notion to a nation state – indeed it became an Empire with colonial interests in Africa and Asia. Not surprisingly, the German vision of the Islamic world changed greatly, and was shaped by advances in learning, the increased movement of people and objects, and shifts in political, intellectual and cultural history. Germany’s evolving political and cultural relationship with the great Islamic empire of the Ottoman Turks played a central role throughout this period. The exhibition also considers the position of Islam in German-speaking Austria, which had borne the brunt of Ottoman aggression since the 16th century: later, though, Austria became a multicultural Empire, fused with Hungary and other states, and was also home to European Muslim citizens.

The exhibition returns to a series of key ideas that help visitors to consider critically how Islam and Muslims are represented in the material. You will also be prompted to re ect on how these ideas relate to your own experiences, understanding and perception of Islam and Muslims in the UK today. Workbooks are available for school groups on request.

The exhibition is touring in support of the ‘Transnationalizing Faith’ project run by Dr. James Hodkinson at the University of Warwick: