ESR Name: Afzali Soraya

Institution: Trinity College Dublin

Supervisor(s): Dr. R. Fazaeli

Project Title: Preaching Hate: A Contextual Discourse Analysis of Charismatic Socio-Religious Speech.

Project Synopsis: This project investigates the relationship between the emotions undergirding the practice of hate and the construction and influence of formal and informal types of authority in the European context. Increasingly “hateful ideologies” are propagated by right-wing propagandists, religious fanatics, and extreme left groups. This project seeks to study the role and origins of charismatic leaders in propagating hate. Through texts, including religious sermons, political speeches, social media communication, and music this project will chart the topography of the personality politics driving discourses of hate and alterity in a European context. This project will employ an interdisciplinary methodology composed of discourse analysis, cultural studies, socio-legal studies, and Islamic studies. The project will also be filtered through a strong gender lens in order to address the intimate relationship between gender and systems of authority. The proposed research aims to investigate the work of groups that agitate against Persian diasporas through hate speech analysis, and their influence in Austria, Germany. In a top-down approach, the project contributes to hate speech policies under Articles 19 of ICEAFRD (1965) to look at current policies. In a bottom-up approach, the project investigates grassroot activists, political artists, and journalists to create a mapping of actors, content, and forms counter speech.

ESR Biography: Soraya Afzali has received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the American University of Afghanistan and her master’s in International Relations from Central European University. Afzali has more than 4 years of experience in communication and has contributed to different research projects with international organizations as a consultant. Soraya has contributed to World Bank Group’s Education Management Information System in Collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education- and GIZ’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Communication (MEC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Economics in Afghanistan. Soraya is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion. For her MA thesis, she focused on mechanisms of inclusion in educational systems. 

Within her volunteer work, she has volunteered for Solace for the Children, the American Councils, and co-founded Humans of Kabul in 2013 to tell stories of Afghan people. Throughout the years, Soraya has been part of different networks that focuses on civil society empowerment as the likes of Open Society Foundation, Initiatives of Change- Caux Scholars Program, and Le Ciel Foundation. She is a ecipient of the US Embassy Scholarship and Open Society Leadership Award.