Faithful knowledges: the mediation of plural collectives in an interfaith charity

Grayson, Deborah. 2018. Faithful knowledges: the mediation of plural collectives in an interfaith charity. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Interfaith initiatives have grown rapidly in the UK since the 1980s, but have been little researched. This thesis presents an organisational ethnography of London-based interfaith charity 3FF (Three Faiths Forum), with whom the author conducted two and half years of fieldwork as part of an ESRC collaborative studentship. Founded in 1997 to bring together Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders, 3FF has since opened up its remit to those of ‘all faiths and nonreligious beliefs’, and primarily delivers education works to young people. The organisation is unusual within the interfaith sector, but expressive of broader shifts in religious and other forms of collective identities (Woodhead, 2012).

Theoretically, this thesis attempts to adopt a non-modern (Latour, 1993) and non-secular approach to knowledge production, arguing that this is necessary to conceptualise processes of collective building that are inclusive of those of different faiths and beliefs, and which do not re-enact racialised hierarchies and coloniality. Chapters trace the mediation of different forms of knowledge, including the mediations of media technologies, from a number of angles. The empirical material covers the complexities of everyday coexistence between faiths; how the organisation navigated high profile ‘faith-inflected media events’ taking place during the fieldwork period; data practices within the internal workings of the organisation; and a theorisation of the organisation’s practice with participants as involving tacit and embodied knowledges, alongside a critique asking where accountability lies when central aspects of the work remain unspoken.

The thesis conclusion outlines some of the lessons that can be drawn from this ethnographic case for constructing a ‘plural collective’ on a decolonial basis, which can challenge inequality despite fundamental disagreements about the nature of knowledge and the agencies at play in the world, and which is “open to contingency but still able to act” (Hall, 1987, p. 117).

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


interfaith, religion, mediation, ethnography of organisations, collaborative research, feminist research, media

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 July 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Aug 2018 12:23

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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