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Q&A with Professor Peter Hopkins

Read our interview with 2024 Back Award recipient, Professor Peter Hopkins.

The complexities of social inequality and justice, as well as the intersections of youth, migration and asylum, race and religion, and gender, are the heart of Professor Peter Hopkins' interests. His recent research focuses on Islamophobia, how it operates within society, and refugee experiences. 

The main thing I strive for in my research and teaching is to create a society free of discrimination.Professor Peter Hopkins

What did you want to be, or where did you want to work, when you were a teenager?

"I wanted to be a primary school teacher. When it came to applying to university, I applied to a mixture of primary education and geography degree programmes. I did get offered a place to study primary education but chose geography and planning as my preferred option. I was not expecting to get into my first choice as it had slightly higher entry requirements; in the end, I managed to get the grades to do geography and planning and have been studying and then working in the higher education sector ever since."

How did you get into this field of work?

"At secondary school, alongside geography (of course!), one of my favourite subjects was religious studies which at the time had a rather radical curriculum where we covered topics such as Christianity and Marxism, Feminist Theology, and Islam. I was really inspired by the openly anti-racist teacher who taught this material. During my PhD at Edinburgh, I focused on these issues through a study of the identities of young Muslim men in Scotland. Since then, I have continued to work on issues at the intersections of youth, masculinities, religion, and race."

What projects are you working on right now?

"My focus is currently on the fieldwork for my Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship on ‘Everyday Islamophobia’. I am working with children in the upper years of primary school to explore their experiences of, and understandings about, racism and Islamophobia. Alongside this, I am also writing a book about everyday Islamophobia. I am also collaborating on research outputs about asylum and anti-Islamophobia activists and about Muslim youth and political engagement."

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier in your career?

"One thing I wish I had learned earlier in my career is that rejection is a regular experience for academics. Whether it be about entering the job market after your PhD, securing research funding, getting a book contract, or publishing in a highly respected journal, it is inevitable that there will be many rejections along the way."

What legacy do you hope you’ll leave?

"The main thing I strive for in my research and teaching is to create a society free of discrimination. I really hope that we can end sexism, racism, and Islamophobia, and put a stop to the many different forms of exclusion and inequality that blight the lives of many people."

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