Interview by Felix Petzold about prejudices and stereotypes in religion

Here we have an interview by Felix Petzold, Chair of Didactics of History at University of Augsburg, about prejudices and stereotypes in religion:

Mr. Petzold, are religion-related stereotypes a contemporary problem?

No, religion-related stereotyping is far from a sole contemporary phenomenon. Stereotypes, as they appear today, have mostly grown historically. Humanity uses stereotyping throughout its existence in order to ‘navigate’ in a confusing and complex world. This process is thus a simplyfing strategy. But that’s not all. By stabilizing the results outwards and inwards on both an individual and collective level, stereotypes accomplish the formation and stabilization of identity through the construction of alterity. This describes one of their essential functions then and now.
They are (hi)story educators.

How do you approach stereotypes from your perspective as a specialis, including those related to religion for educational purposes and what may be gained?

Students should have a reflective and self-reflexive usage of stereotypes from a historical and didactic point of view. It also seems essential to understand them in their evolution. In this way of assimilation they become acquainted with the enduring functions and mechanisms of their use and effects. Especially the historical view, which essentially means to historicize them, to make their genesis clear, and to contextualize them, i.e. to analyze them in their becoming effective within historical events, gives learners deeper insights. They recognize that stereotypes are not ahistorical monoliths, but have grown historically, unfolding different efficiencies at different times. Sometimes they flatten to clichés, sometimes they solidify into detailed images. Becoming familiar with the central mechanisms of their use and effect, learners also gain awarness of the problems related with stereotypes; namely, how they became subject of instrumentalization and of abuse over time and space.

This substantial historical-didactical view was also shared in the results of our project: in the linking of religion-related stereotypes and prejudices (such as anti-Jewish stereotypes) or explained as an approach to teaching in one of the so-called units of online training series (Unit 8).