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Francois Soyer
The University of Southampton
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Cultivating Fear and Hatred of the 'Other': Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Vernacular Propaganda in Catholic Southern Europe (1500-1800)

This project examines the deliberate manipulation and cultivation of fear and hatred of Jews and Muslims by both secular governments and the Catholic Church in printed propaganda produced in southern Europe between 1500 and 1800.  It furthers our understanding of how propagandists sought to manipulate the emotions of their readers as part of a deliberate drive to marginalise these minorities and construct a sense of collective identity around Catholicism.

Cultivating Fear and Hatred of the "Other": the development of officially sanctioned anti-Semitic and Islamophobic sentiment in Catholic Southern Europe (1500-1800).

Burning of the heretics sentenced in the Spanish Inquisitions (1769.) Copyright: The British Museum.

This project examines the deliberate manipulation and cultivation of the fear and hatred of Jews and Muslims by both secular governments and the Catholic Church in printed propaganda produced in southern Europe between 1500 and 1800.  

The invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century revolutionised the production and dissemination of ideas across Europe. Previously limited to handfuls of manuscripts copies, books and pamphlets could now be produced in hundreds and thousands of copies. Moreover, the development of vernacular literacy amongst the laity between 1450 and 1800 meant that there was a new and expanding readership. The impact of typographical printing on the social, religious and intellectual development of Europe - and more particularly its role in the Enlightenment - has been widely acknowledged by historians and even by contemporary observers. A far less studied aspect of the printing revolution in early modern Europe has been the appearance of "hate literature" in the vernacular aimed at reaching new audiences and spreading fear and hatred against designated groups.

This projects intends to demonstrate how the language of demonization used in "Hate literature" in modern-day Australia, Europe and North American has deep roots running back to early printed propaganda works. To do this, it examines books and pamphlets that were printed in early modern Europe (with a particular focus on Spain, Portugal and Italy) with the aim of promulgating fear and hatred of Jews and Muslims, analysing the development and nature of the rhetoric, arguments, images and vocabulary used to depict Muslims and Jews as inherently alien and hostile groups during the early modern period.

Publications


F. Soyer, (2014) Popularizing Anti-Semitism in Early Modern Spain and its Empire. The Centinela contra Judíos of Fray Francisco de Torrejoncillo (1674). E. J. Brill Academic Publishers (Leiden). The Medieval and Early Modern Iberian World Series no. 54. (ISBN 9789004250475).

F. Soyer, (2013), "Faith, culture and fear: comparing Islamophobia in early modern Spain and twenty-first-century Europe", Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp. 399-416. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.734383