Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, "Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America" (NYU Press, 2021)


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In Fear In Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America (NYU Press, 2021), Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, Associate Professor at Grinnell College, examines Islamophobia in the United States, positing that rather than simply being an outcome of the 9/11 attacks, anti-Muslim activity grows out of a fear of difference that has always characterized US public life. Elfenbein examines the effects of this fear on American Muslims, as well as describing how it works to shape and distort American society. Drawing on over 1,800 news reports documenting anti-Muslim activity, Elfenbein pinpoints trends, draws connections to the broader histories of immigration, identity, belonging, and citizenship in the US, and examines how Muslim communities have responded. In our conversation we discuss the Mapping Islamophobia digital humanities project, the role of storytelling in synthesizing a large amounts of data, anti-Muslim political rhetoric and activity, the effects of “public hate,” Muslim participation in public life, the role of legislation, hate crimes, Muslim public outreach and engagement, and Muslim politicians.

Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at

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