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Response to Review no. 566

I would like to thank Sarah Ansari for her very thorough reading and review of my book. I greatly appreciate the time and effort taken as well as her perspective and insights. Generally, I am pleased with the review, aside from a few minor points of disagreement that are to be expected between author and reviewer. However, there is one issue that must be addressed and clarified.

A critical aspect of my argument has been misunderstood. My intent in chapter three never was to present the idea that ‘BFASS “propaganda” should therefore be seen as part of the wider vilification of Islam and Muslims that gained ground in late nineteenth-century Britain’ or ‘to show how far Islam became inscribed as the predominant “Other”, a negative against which an English positive self-image could be developed and enlarged’. Rather, in this chapter I mean to show how a group of activists, through anti-slavery efforts, created a new abolitionist ideology based on conceptions of English national identity understood in contrast to Islam in order to mobilize themselves and others. While they repeatedly claimed to speak for the English nation as a whole, they remained a minority in that society and the discourse that they produced was one among many. In fact, a central theme of the book is to shed light on the processes through which multiple and even contradictory representations of Islam and Englishness developed, circulated and informed each other in the context of the British imperial cultural system of the late-nineteenth century.