Peter Gottschalk is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University. He received his B.A. in History at the College of the Holy Cross, his M.A. in South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago. Peter’s research and teaching concentrate on the dynamics of cultural interpretation and conflict in the context of Islam, Hinduism, and the West. He is interested particularly in understanding how assumptions of mutual antagonism form between groups despite evidence of religious confluence. Peter enjoys presenting on these topics and has discussed them in the U.S., India, Bangladesh, and Europe at colleges and universities, professional conferences, public events, and religious communities. He has appeared on CNN, Air America, Voice of America, and National Public Radio, while his work has been mentioned in USA Today, The New York Times, and the On Faith website of The Washington Post.
Peter’s first book, Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India (Oxford University Press, New York 2000 and New Delhi 2001), ethnographically explored the multiple identities evident in the social memories of residents in some north Indian villages. He demonstrated how Hindus and Muslims do not always understand themselves or each other as such but, through the narratives they tell of their past, often share identities as villagers, Biharis, Indians, and cricket teammates, among others. The book challenges the familiar bifurcation of India and its history into mutually exclusive Hindu and Muslim components.
As part of an effort to provide students with materials about rural India that teach about religion without reinforcing this binary view of Hindus and Muslims, Peter collaborated with Mathew N. Schmalz (College of the Holy Cross) to create “A Virtual Village” (2001). This free, interactive website allows students the opportunity to navigate the streets and alleys of the village central to Peter’s ethnographic work while having the opportunity to read and hear interviews with village members. Peter and Mathew have also collaborated in editing a volume of essays regarding Western engagements with religions on the subcontinent entitled Engaging South Asian Religions: Boundaries, Appropriations, and Resistance (SUNY Press, 2011).
Turning to the American context, Peter collaborated with his former student Gabriel Greenberg in writing Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007). This volume demonstrates how Americans have had endemic fears about Islam and Muslims since before the nation’s founding. Using political cartoons, Peter and Gabriel show that despite the different forms Islamophobia has taken in response to shifting social, political, and economic contexts, stereotyped Muslims have served as a foil used to prove American normality.
Most recently, Peter is completing a book for Oxford University Press on the history of British representations of Indians during the Raj. Using archival and other sources, he attempts to show how the coalescing “Western” sciences of the last few centuries shaped a British urge to classify all things Indian – including people – in mutually exclusive categories. This predilection – resisted by some Indians and facilitated by others – combined with social and political changes on the subcontinent helped reinforce and deepen existing religious divides while often eclipsing social avenues of intereraction.
Peter has seldom encountered anything with wings that he hasn’t liked.
BOOKS IN PRESS
Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying British India. (Oxford University Press).
SELECTED ARTICLES, ESSAYS, AND ENTRIES IN BOOKS
“A Science of Defining Boundaries: Classification, Categorization, and the Census of India” in Engaging South Asian Religions: Boundaries, Appropriations, and Resistance, Mathew N. Schmalz and Peter Gottschalk, eds. (SUNY Press, 2011).
“Introduction: Engaging South Asian Religions” co-authored with Mathew N. Schmalz in Engaging South Asian Religions: Boundaries, Appropriations, and Resistance, Mathew N. Schmalz and Peter Gottschalk., eds. (SUNY Press, 2011).
“From Muhammad to Obama: Caricatures, Cartoons, and Stereotypes of Muslims” for Islamophobia: A Challenge to Pluralism in the 21st Century, John Esposito, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2011).
“Islamophobia” entry co-authored with Gabriel Greenberg for Routledge Companion to Race & Ethnicity, Stephen Maynard Caliendo and Charlton McIlwain, eds. (Routledge, 2010). 162-163.
“A Village as Hermeneutical Lens: Spaces of Rural Hindu-Muslim Interactions” submitted for Village Matters: Relocating Villages in the Contemporary Anthropology of India, Diane Mines and Nicolas Yazgi, eds. (Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010).
“A Categorical Difference: Communal Identity in British Epistemologies” for Religion, Violence and Globalization: The South Asian Experience, John Hinnells and Richard King, eds. (Routledge Curzon, 2006).
“Muslim Traditions” in Religions of South Asia, Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, eds. (Routledge, 2006).
“Visions of Incompatibility: Categorizing Islam and Hinduism in Scholarship” in Incompatible Visions: South Asian Religion in History and Culture, James Blumenthal, ed. (Center for South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006).
“A Mahatma for Mourners and Militants: The Social Memories of Mohandas Gandhi in Arampur, ” in “Mourning and Memory,” a special issue of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (Vol. 25, No. 1, 2005).
“Political Hindu Nationalism: Riptides in the Saffron Wave” in Sightings, a twice-weekly on-line publication of the Martin Marty Center of the University of Chicago Divinity School (August 25, 2005).
“Mapping Muslims: Categories of Evolutionary Difference and Interaction in South Asia” in Lived Islam: Liminality, Accommodation, and Adaptation, Imtiaz Ahmad and Helmut Reifeld, eds. (Social Science Press, 2003).
“Dead Healers and Living Identities: Narratives of a Hindu Ghost and a Muslim Sufi in a Shared Village” in The Living and the Dead: The Social Dimensions of Death in South Asian Religions, Elizabeth Wilson, ed. (SUNY Press, 2003).
ELECTRONIC AND VISUAL PRODUCTIONS
“History of Religion Timeline.” Encyclopedia Britannica CD-ROM (1998).
“Living Together and Apart: Hindus and Muslims in South Asia.” Script-writer, photographer, and narrator for still-image video produced by the University of Wisconsin-Madison South Asian Outreach Center (1993).
“Living with Geography: Everyday Life in Pakistan.” Script-writer, photographer, and narrator for still-image video produced by the University of Wisconsin-Madison South Asian Outreach Center (1992).
SELECT INVITED LECTURES
“The Specter of Islam: The Perceived Threat of Mosques and Sharia in the U.S.” University of California, San Diego (May 2011).
“The Many Faces of Islam in South Asia.” State University of New York–Orange (May 2011).
“American Islamophobia: Roots, Nativism, and Political Advantage.” New York University (April 2011).
“It Takes Two to Tango: Religion and Science in the Imperial Ballroom” and “Picturing Islam: 50 years of Making Muslims the Enemy.” Wickenden Lectures – Miami University (September 2008).
“Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy” at Deconstructing Islamophobia workshop, University of California, Berkeley (April 2008).
“Fear and Loathing: Extremism, the Norm, and the Limits of Religious Tolerance.” Hartford Seminary (April 2008).
“Issues and Trends in the Study of South Asian Religions.” Symposium on South Asia: Issues and Trends in Research at Missouri State University, Springfield (March 2008).
“Images of the Enemy: from Caricature to Stereotype.” Islamophobia workshop, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center of Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University (September 2007).
“The Problem with Religion in India.” The University of Connecticut (April 2007).
“Putting Bihar on the Map: British Efforts to Know Biharis.” Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, India (January 2007).
“The Science of Communalism: Epistemologies of Difference in British India.” Yale University (November 2006).
“Questioning How Things Are (in South Asia) through a Liberal Arts Education.” University of the Liberal Arts, Bangladesh (March 2005).
“Between Imagination and Experience: Muslims in American Political Cartoons.” Bath Spa University College, England (November 2004).
“The type of difference and the difference of the type: British categories of religion and society in an Indian village.” South Asia History seminar, School of Oriental and African Studies, England (October 2004).
“Knowing the Difference: Indian Religious Identity in Popular and State Discourse.” “Comparative Perspectives on Religious Coexistence: The State and the Everyday” seminar, Duke University (April 2004).
SELECT CONFERENCE PAPERS
“Shared Fears, Divergent Expressions: Islamophobia in British India and the United States.” Annual Conference on South Asia – University of Wisconsin-Madison (October 2010).
“Bodies of Evidence.” American Academy of Religions Conference – Montreal (November 2009).
“A Colonial Heritage: Historical Islamophobia in the United States.” Rockefeller Brothers Foundation conference (November 2009).
“Hindu and Muslim Processions Defining a Shared Village.” International Society for the Study of Religion – Santiago de Compostela, Spain (July 2009).
“Candor, Fear, and Respect: Picturing Muslims.” Candor or Respect? Talking about the Religion of Others conference – Columbia Law School. (Feburary 2009).
“Promoting Scientism: Institutions for Gathering and Disseminating Knowledge in British Bihar.” Conference on Knowledge Production and Pedagogy in Colonial India: Missionaries, Orientalists, and Reformers in Institutional Contexts – School of Oriental and African Studies and German Historical Institute, London (November 2008).
“Picture Perfect: Religion, Representation, and Categories of Comparison.” American Academy of Religions Conference – Chicago (November 2008).
“De-centering Muslim Studies.” Annual Conference on South Asia – University of Wisconsin-Madison (October 2007).
“Between Memory and Science: Local and State Views of Bakhtiyar’s Rauza.” Annual Conference on South Asia – University of Wisconsin-Madison (October 2007).
“In a Class of Their Own: Categorizing Difference in the Processions of a North Indian Village.” ‘Drawing a line in water’: Religious Boundaries in South Asia conference – Syracuse University (April 2004).
“Through the Historiographic Lens: Religion in Arampur.” American Academy of Religions Conference – Atlanta (November 2003).
FELLOWSHIPS, GRANTS, AND AWARDS
Faculty Fellow – Center for the Humanities, Wesleyan University (fall 2006)
Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship Grant – (2004-2005).
Mellon New Initiative Grant – (2004-2006).
Visiting Fellow – Divinity School, Cambridge University (summer 2001).
Group Project Grant – Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion (2000-2001).
Facilitator – Associated Colleges of the South Teachers’ Workshop: Rollins College (June 2002).
Speaking, reading, and writing fluency: Urdu, Hindi.
Reading ability: Sanskrit, German, French.