10 December 2011

Here is a brief write-up I did for the Council for a Parliament of World Religions about my future research plans. A brief extract:
Over the next two years, I hope to carefully investigate the language used in antagonistic interaction on YouTube during Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. I will build on previous research showing that metaphor played an important role in contributing to negative evaluations and offensive interactions between atheist and Christians users on YouTube. By analysing how language is used in videos made for and in response to ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day 2010,’ I hope to reveal the nuts and bolts of antagonism embedded in language, showing how language use contributed to perceptions of offence and misunderstanding between users.
I believe strongly that identifying moments of antagonism in language use could serve as an important resource for scholars and religious practitioners, particularly those struggling to resolve conflict around religious expression and free speech. Rather than discuss disagreements between users primarily in terms of large-scale differences in cultural or religious beliefs, I believe that starting from a small-scale perspective and looking closely at actual moments of disagreement and antagonism in interaction helps make abstract disagreements much clearer, and therefore, potentially easier to solve.tion helps make abstract disagreements much clearer, and therefore, potentially easier to solve.