Postprint of: Moloney, G, Holtz, P & Wagner, W 2013, 'Editorial political cartoons in Australia: social representations & and the visual depiction of essentialism', Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 284-298.
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Six million migrants from over 170 countries have resettled in Australia since 1945 ensuring religious diversity is now a hallmark of Australia’s population. However, not all religious groups are perceived in the same way. In this paper, we explore how representational processes differentially essentialise religious groups, in particular how some groups are ascribed an underlying nature that irrevocably defines who they are and how they will behave, whilst other groups are conveyed merely as coherent entities with similarity in goals and structure. We elucidate this through an analysis of the depiction of religious markers in Australian Editorial political cartoons. We mirror the near-exclusive focus on the Muslim and Christian religions, in the religious cartoons we sampled, to present an analysis of 6 exemplar cartoons. Drawing from visual analysis techniques (van Leeuwen 2001) and social representations theory (Moscovici 1984) we highlight how essentialist perceptions of religious groups are unwittingly fostered in everyday media communications. We discuss the implications of our analysis for the transnationalisation of religion.