Alwaleed Centre Annual Report 2021/22
2021/22 has been an exciting year for the Alwaleed Centre with the launch of some major new funded research projects, some dynamic new members of the team and a revitalised outreach programme.
The past year has seen significant funding success for the Alwaleed Centre as well as the initiation of some extremely fruitful outreach projects and initiatives locally, nationally and internationally. This year our talented and growing academic team have helped cement our status as a leading Centre for the study of contemporary Muslim societies in a globalised world, and we look forward to building on this success over the coming years.
As the country emerged from the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alwaleed Centre was able to accelerate its programme of research, teaching and public engagement both online and in-person. We welcomed a number of new colleagues who have brought considerable expertise to the team, and we have celebrated the success of some major research funding applications.
Over the course of the year, the Alwaleed Centre's team has:
- Secured over £1.5m in additional funding for research and outreach projects
- Led on the launch of the Alwaleed Cultural Network - a major new network of universities and cultural institutions in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, all funded by Alwaleed Philanthropies
- Welcomed 7 new colleagues and Visiting Fellows
- Published and presented more than 25 academic articles, chapters and conference papers
- Delivered a variety of high-impact outreach projects
- Organised over 15 public events, both in-person and online
- Taught 8 undergraduate and postgraduate courses exploring diverse regions and contemporary dynamics of the Muslim world
We look forward to building on this year's successes and thank our many funders, partners and supporters for their essential and highly valued contributions.
2021/22 saw the Alwaleed Centre team initiate some major research and outreach projects, funded by grants from a variety of academic and non-academic bodies.
Digital Islam Across Europe: Understanding Muslims’ Participation in Online Islamic Environments
A major European research project funded by Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe (CHANSE) and led by Alwaleed Centre Director, Professor Frederic Volpi.
The project entails in-depth research in five European countries: Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. At its core, the project will examine how diverse Muslim populations engage with the online ecosystem, seeking and providing formal or informal advice on issues related to Islam. It will show how these interactions shape, and are shaped, by the success of specific online producers.
Digital British Islam: How do Cyber Islamic Environments impact everyday lives?
The Alwaleed Centre's Director, Professor Frederic Volpi, is Co-Investigator on a major three-year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC) exploring how different forms of internet media are used within diverse Muslim contexts across the UK.
This multi-disciplinary team aims to undertake the first-ever exploration of the social impacts of digital activities that focusses on lived experiences of diverse Muslim communities in Britain. Digital British Muslims will map and interrogate the impact of the exponential growth of cyber Islamic environments (CIEs) on intergenerational transformations within diverse UK Muslim communities, and the extent of their influence on Muslim lives, societies, practices and beliefs.
British Council Going Global Partnership: Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia, Jakarta
Alwaleed Early Career Fellow, Dr Sarah Muwahidah, is leading a major two-year project funded by the British Council aimed at building transnational teaching and research connections between the Alwaleed Centre and the Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia in Jakarta.
The generous funding received from the British Council has enabled a programme of Visiting Fellowships alongside a series of student exchanges and curriculum workshops. The ultimate goal of the project is to bring together the UIII's new Islamic Studies MA and the Alwaleed Centre's new Globalised Muslim World MSc as a Dual Degree Programme option for students in UIII.
Valuing Water: Religious, social and cultural perspectives from a water-scarce region
Alwaleed Lecturer in the Globalised Muslim World, Dr Kholoud Al-Ajarma, secured an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account grant for her innovative project 'Valuing Water: Religious, social and cultural perspectives from a water-scarce region', which aims to highlight the value of water from perspectives that are often ignored in traditional water management policies in the Mediterranean region. Using ethnographic anthropological methods, Dr Al-Ajarma and the project team are connecting local communities (including women, refugee communities, and young professionals) from water-scarce countries with policy-makers and regional actors in hydro-diplomacy.
New Scots: Changing the Narrative
The Alwaleed Centre's Syrian Futures Project secured funding from the Scottish Government to produce five creative documentaries telling the stories of Syrian young people living in Edinburgh.
Written and produced by the young people themselves, together with Media Education Scotland, the documentaries offer a powerful insight into the challenges, successes and aspirations on these inspirational young people who are building extraordinary new lives in Scotland's capital. The documentaries were premiered at a special screening the Cameo Picturehouse Cinema Edinburgh, attended by an audience of more than 200 people.
The documentaries are now being used as teaching resources in schools to help overcome prejudice and misunderstanding about refugee communities in Scotland.
Over the past year, the Alwaleed Centre was delighted to welcome seven new colleagues to the team in various capacities, each bringing with them a diverse range of expertise and skills.
Dr Khadijah Elshayyal: Postdoctoral Research, Digital British Islam
Dr Elshayyal is an Associate Fellow at the Alwaleed Centre specialising in British Muslim identity politics and representation. In August 2022, she also took up the role of Postdoctoral Researcher on the Digital British Islam research project funded by the ESRC. Dr Elshayyal recently completed successive postdoctoral and teaching fellowships at the University of Edinburgh, where she organised and taught on a number of courses across IMES and the School of Divinity. Her research interests lie in the representation, political and cultural activism of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the UK.
Dr Ezgi Güner: Early Career Fellow
Ezgi joined the Alwaleed CEntre in January 2022 Fellow in Contemporary Muslim Societies in a Globalised World. Her research interests span in race, religion, empire and global capitalism across the Middle East and Africa south of the Sahara. Before coming to Edinburgh, Ezgi was a visiting fellow in the Anthropology Department at Harvard University and an Ernst Mach fellow in the Centre for Southeast European Studies at University of Graz. She taught critical race theory in the Department of Sociology at Boğaziçi University and the Association for Migration Research in Istanbul. Her articles are published in POMEPS Studies, MERIP, and Religions.
Ms Assia Hamdi: Web and Communications Officer
Assia Hamdi is the Web and Communications Officer at the Alwaleed Center and a Master's student at the University of Edinburgh's Globalised Muslim World MSc programme. She has worked as a content creator and writer in the Halal travel industry for companies worldwide (Turkey, Singapore, UK) and is the Spotlights editor on TheMuslimWomenTimes. She has extensive experience tutoring and mentoring in English, History, and the wider humanities.
Her interests include the history of the Mediterranean, Islam in Europe, untold stories of women, Muslim Africa, theories of Tawhid (Unity), and critical race studies across Islamic and Western societies. Assia holds a BA in Arabic and History from SOAS University of London.
Professor Noorhaidi Hasan: Visiting Scholar
The Alwaleed Centre was delighted to welcome Professor Noorhaidi Hasan to Edinburgh from March-June 2022 as its first Visiting Scholar through the 'Going Global Partnership' project, funded by the British Council. The project aims to build lasting teaching and research connections between the Alwaleed Centre and the International Islamic University of Indonesia (UIII), Jakarta. Noorhaidi is Professor of Islam and Politics at State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta. He is currently serving as Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies, International Islamic University of Indonesia (UIII). His research interests include Salafism, identity politics, religious diversity, popular culture, and youth. He is currently visiting the University of Edinburgh, under the Visiting Scholar scheme funded by the British Council's Going Global Partnership Programme between UIII and the University of Edinburgh.
Dr Wassim Mroue: Iash-Alwaleed Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Mroue joined the Alwaleed Centre in October 2022 as an IASH-Alwaleed Postdoctoral Fellow. His research interests span intra-sectarian relations during and after civil wars, conflict and peace, Shiism and political Islam. He gained his PhD form the University of Edinburgh with a thesis which looked into drivers of relations between Lebanon’s Shia Islamist parties AMAL and Hezbollah in the 1980s. Before pursuing his PhD, he worked as a journalist and a national editor at Lebanon’s English language newspaper, 'The Daily Star'. Dr Mroue's IASH-Alwaleed project is entitled: 'Drivers of Intra-Sectarian Relations in Civil Wars: A De-colonial Reading of Shia Politics in Lebanon'.
Dr Nazirudin Nasir: Iash-Alwaleed Fellow
Dr Nazirudin Nasir joined the Alwaleed Centre as an IASH-Alwaleed Research Fellow in July 2022 to work on the project 'Maslaha as Policy Imperative in Fatwas during the Covid-19 Pandemic'. Dr Nasir completed his doctorate in the comparative study of religion at the University of Oxford in 2015. His thesis examined the interrelationships between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the emergence of the idea of the ‘Abrahamic religions’ in the thought of French Islamicist Louis Massignon. Nazirudin was trained as a cleric at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo and currently serves as the Mufti of Singapore, the religious head of the Muslim community. In the field of applied Islamic thought, he leads in the policy conceptualisation and implementation of Islamic law, theology and ethics. He is involved in inter-religious engagements and teaches world religions and ethics at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
Dr Yanwar Pribadi: Visiting Scholar
Dr Yanwar Pribadi joined the Alwaleed Centre as a Visiting Schoar from October-November 2022 as part of the Centre's 'Going Global Partnership' project, funded by the British Council. Dr Pribadi is lecturer at the Indonesian International Islamic University (UIII) and UIN Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin Banten, Indonesia. He graduated from Leiden University (MA and PhD). Yanwar is the author of 'Islam, State and Society in Indonesia: Local Politics in Madura' (Routledge, 2018) and articles in edited volumes, encyclopaedia, and journals, such as TRaNS: Trans-Regional and –National Studies of Southeast Asia; Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde; Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs; South East Asia Research; American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences; and Encyclopaedia of Islam III (Brill). His research interests include Muslim politics and expressions, contemporary Islamic history, religious networks, and citizenship.
You can find more information about the Alwaleed Centre's full academic and professional services team HERE.
With lockdown restrictions easing 2021/22, the Alwaleed Centre was able to reinvigorate its programme of outreach and projects locally, nationally and internationally. Below are some highlights of an exciting year.
Outreach and Projects
The Alwaleed Centre's flagship outreach project, Syrian Futures, continued its essential work with Scottish Syrians of all ages, offering advice, support and training to help them access higher/further education and find their way to fulfilling jobs and careers. Project Coordinator, Nadin Akta, also worked closely with the Scottish Government, local authorities and local schools, providing consultation, translation and training on Syrian culture and the many challenges face by Syrians arriving in Scotland.
Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies
In June 2022, the Alwaleed Centre hosted the first in-person annual conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies for three years. More than 150 scholars from across the world came together in Edinburgh for a memorable two days of papers, keynotes and conversations which spanned the full spectrum of Islamic Studies sub-disciplines. The Alwaleed Centre continues to act as th Management Hub for BRAIS, and we look forward to hosting the 2023 conference in the stunning surroundings of the Aga Khan University's Insstitute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London.
Edinburgh and the World of Islam Walking Tour
2022 saw the launch of a unique local history project conceived by Alwaleed Honorary Professorial Fellow, Hugh Goddard. 'Edinburgh and the World of Islam' is a self-guided walking tour exploring Edinburgh's many connections with the Muslim world, both past and present. The tour is split into five separate routes covering different parts of the city. Walkers can follow the routes in their own time, but Professor Goddard has also led a number of tours himself which have proved exceptionally popular.
With COVID restrictions lifting in early 2022, the Alwaleed Centre was able to reestablish its link with schools across Scotland, and worked closely with the University of Edinburgh's Widening Participation team to offer engaging sessions and studies days on Islam for pupils of all ages. Memorable examples include a collaboration with the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Research Collections to deliver a wonderful Project Day for the Sutton Trust Summer School exploring the ways in which cultures travel across the Muslim world, and two important workshops led by Alwaleed CARA Fellow, Dr Sayed Mahdi Mosawi, encouraging pupils to reflect on the challenges facing refugees who have are building new lives in Scotland. The Centre also welcomed a cohort of trainee Religious Studis teachers form the University of Aberdeen for a day of training around teaching Islam, which included a trip to the Central Mosque.
Sufi Festival Glasgow
The Alwaleed Centre was proud to sponsor the 2022 Sufi Festival in Glasgow which hosted more than 40 Sufi-inspired musicians, storytellers and creatives for two days of cultural exchange and inspirational performances. The Centre has been a supporter of the sufi Festival since it launched in 2019, and we were delighted to see it back after two years away.
Institutional Churchification of Islam in Eastern Europe (November 2022)
A public lecture by Professor Egdūnas Račius (Vytautas Magnus University Kaunas, Lithuania) exploring patterns of governance of Islam in post-communist Eastern Europe.
Understanding Women's Activism in Iran Through Cinema (November 2022)
A special screening of Mahshad Afshar's documentary 'Women on Both Sides of the Camera' followed by a discussion between the director and Professor Nacim Pak-Shiraz (University of Edinburgh).
Wajd: Songs of Separation (October 2022)
A screening of Amar Chebib's beautiful film which follows the experiences of three sufi musicians who escape Syria to build new lives in foregn lands. Followed by a discussion between Professor Jonathan Shannon (Hunter College) and Dr Ezgi Guner (University of Edinburgh).
The International Thought of Turkish Islamists (October 2022)
A public lecture by Dr Katerina Dalacoura (LSE) providing an overview of her Leverhulme Trust-funded research project 'The International Thought of Turkish Islamists: History, Civilisation and Nation'.
New Scots: Changing the Narrative (September 2022)
A screening at the Cameo Picturehouse, Edinburgh, of five powerful documentaries written and produced by young Syrians living in Edinburgh. Delivered in partnership with Media Education Scotland.
Decolonising Human Rights: Theories and Practices (June 2022)
A major online conversation between Prof. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim (Emory University) and Prof. Noorhaidi Hasan (Indonesian InternationaI Islamic University) as they reflect on alternative approaches to decolonising the universal human rights paradigm. Chaired by Dr Siti Sarah Muwahidah (Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh).
Celebrate Syrian Cultural Heritage (June 2022)
An event for Refugee Week 2022 delivered in partnership with colleagues from across the University of Edinburgh and exploring Syrian traditional approaches to land and agriculture.
Sema: Movements of the Soul and Sound (June 2022)
A unique, multimedia performance bringing together Turkish and North African Sufi music and practice. Performed as part of the Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies.
Critical Muslim Studies: Decolonizing the Islamicate? (June 2022)
A public keynote address by Professor Salman Sayyid (University of Leeds) which opened the Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies.
Myanmar's Rohingya Genocide: Identity, History and Hate Speech (May 2022)
A powerful online discussion between between Dr Ronan Lee (Loughborough University) and Dr Anita Schug (co-founder of Rohingya Medics Organisation) reflecting on Dr Lee's recently-published book 'Myanmar's Rohingya Genocide: Identity, History and Hate Speech'.
Practices and Technologies of Repression in Contemporary Egypt (April 2022)
An online roundtable featuring Prof. Khaled Fahmy (University of Cambridge), Mr. Aly El Raggal (Independant researcher), Dr Chaymaa Hassabo (Research Associate, French Institute for Near Studies at Beirut), and Dr Alexis Blouet (University of Cergy Pontoise/Alwaleed Centre).
Secular Power, Europe and Islam: Identity and Foreign Policy (January 2022)
A transatlantic online conversation between Dr Sarah Wolff (QMUL) and Professor Jose Casanova (Georgetown University) discussing Dr Wolff's new book 'Secular Power Europe and Islam: Identity and Foreign Policy' (Michigan University Press).
Articles, Chapters and Reviews:
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. “‘Pilgrimage of the Poor’: Religious, Social and Political Dimensions of Moroccan Local Pilgrimage”, Journal of Anthropology of the Middle East, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. 2022. 'Personality and Perception: Aspects of the Researcher’s Identity and their Impact on Field Research within Diverse Locations’, in The Politics of Engaged Gender Research in the Arab Region: Feminist Fieldwork and the Production of Knowledge, edited by Suad Jpseph, Lena Meari, and Zeina Zaatari I.B. Tauris, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. 'A Journey beyond Words: Senses, Emotion and the Sacred Experience of the Hajj', in Marjo Buitelaar (ed) Narrating Muslim Pilgrimage, Routledge, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. and Buitelaar, M. 'Here’s me with the Ka’ba Right Behind me”: Performing the Hajj in the Age of Technology and Social Media, in Marjo Buitelaar (ed) Narrating Muslim Pilgrimage, Routledge, 2022.
Dakkak, Nadeen. 'Contesting Narratives of Victimization in Migration to the Arab Gulf States: A Reading of Mia Alvar’s In the Country', Journal of Arabian Studies, 2021.
Güner, Ezgi. 'Mapping Africa: Cartographies of Imagination and Intervention in Turkey', in: Erdoğan, B., Hisarlıoğlu, F. (eds) Critical Readings of Turkey’s Foreign Policy, Palgrave Studies in International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan, 2022.
Muwahidah, Sarah. Review of 'Indonesian Pluralities: Islam, Citizenship, and Democracy' by Robert W. Hefner and Zainal Abidin Bagir (Eds), in Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion. 2021.
Conference Papers and Panels
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Keynote speaker in the 1st Colloquium 'Decentering Islamic Studies: Towards New Approaches in the Study of Islam and Muslim Societies', held at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Keynote speaker: 'Digital Islam and the making of future Muslim societies', at State Islamic University of Antasari Banjarmasin, Indonesia, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Keynote speaker: 'Islamic Transformations in the Digital Age: Youth, Gender, and Ritual', organized by Universitas Islam Negeri Mataram, Indonesia, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Keynote speaker at the International Seerah Conference: 'Training of Young Generation for Societal Change,' organised by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University, Peshawar, Pakistan, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. 'Women’s Labour: Between Patriarchy, Stereotypes, and Questions of Wellbeing in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic', at the Fourth Research Forum, organized by the Arab Council for Social Sciences, Beirut, Lebanon, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. 'Labour in the MENA Region', Beirut Summer Institute in Critical Development Studies, organized by the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. 'Muslims and the Environment: Contesting the Contemporary Religious and Cultural Discourses”, at the Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS), the University of Edinburgh, UK, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Keynote lecture: 'International Conference on Human rights and Islam', organized by the University of Peshawar, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Invited Speaker: 'International Seminar on Islamophobia and Muslim Minorities', organized by the Department of Islamic thought, History and Culture - Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, 2022.
Al-Ajarma, Kholoud. Panelist: 'Aspects of the Researcher’s Identity and their Impact on Field Research', International Symposium on Anthropology in the Arab World, organized by Ibn Khaldon Center for Humanities & Social Sciences, Qatar University, 2021.
Güner, Ezgi. 'Curating the Islamic Heritage of Cape Town: History, memory and Muslim communities in museums', 3rd International congress on Islamic Civilisation in Southern Africa, Cape Town, 2022.
Güner, Ezgi. ''The Last Ottoman Sancak': Heritage, race and the Turkish foreign policy in the African Sahel, What happens to race when the empire crumbles?', 17th European Association of Social Anthropologists Association biennial conference, Belfast, 2022.
Güner, Ezgi. 'Racing the Ummah: Humanitarianization of Muslim Internationalism and the Reconstruction of Turkish Whiteness in Africa', part of panel 'Why Race Matters in Islamic Studies: Theoretical and Ethnographic Contributions from Muslim Africa and its Diaspora', Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS), the University of Edinburgh, UK, 2022.
Güner, Ezgi. 'Building a Multiracial Ummah: Discourses of race, humanitarianism and Africa in Turkey”, 4th Biennial Conference of African Studies Association of Africa, Cape Town. 2022.
Muwahidah, Sarah. 'Revisiting the Polemics of the Wangsakerta Manuscript: How do the Practices of Epistemic Disobedience Reproduce Cultural Memories and Destabilize the Dominant Narratives of the Islamization of the Malay World?', Workshop: Malay World Manuscripts: Medium And Method In Decentring Dominant Narratives, Department of Malay Studies & Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 23-24 September 2022.
Muwahidah, Sarah. Keynote speaker 'What Do Muslim Learn from the Digital Age? Da’wah, Pilgrimage, and Piety as Expressions of Identity', The Faculty of Dakwah, UIN Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin, Banten, 21 July 2022.
Muwahidah, Sarah. 'Islamic Transformation in the Digital Era: Youth, Gender, and Ritual', UIN Mataram’s International Seminar, 2022.
Muwahidah, Sarah. Keynote speaker 'Decentering Islamic Studies: Towards New Approaches in the Study of Islam and Muslim Societies', Indonesian International Islamic University, July 12, 2022.
Policy Papers, Op-Eds and Blogs
Al-Ajarma, K. “Addressing Gender in the Climate/Water Security Nexus,” published by the Centre for Mediterranean Integration of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Al-Ajarma, K., Mansour J., & Arafah, G. “Water Stories: Older Women and Water Management Practices in Palestine,” published by the Centre for Mediterranean Integration of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Al-Ajarma, K. “Subverting Israeli Surveillance Systems: A Note on Palestinian Resistance.” DAWN Informs (pp 39-41), published by Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era.
Al-Ajarma, K., I. Qasmi, A. Madi, and S. Basso. “Migration and water resources: existing concerns and proposed solutions.” The European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed); Barcelona, Spain.
Mosawi, Sayed Mahdi and Heins, Volker. 'Past and Present Fears among Hazara Refugees in Germany”, Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, KWI, 2022: https://blog.kulturwissenschaften.de/past-and-present-fears-among-hazara-refugees-in-germany/
Muwahidah, Sarah. 'Embodying the Spirit of Ashura: Women's Ways', Podcast on Seroja YT Chanel, Fatimiyyah (Women Wings of IJABI – Indonesian Shiʿi Organization), August 2022.
The Alwaleed Centre's new MSc The Globaslied Muslim World programme entered its second year in 2022/23, with a new cohort of students joining us in September. this unique programme explores the inherent diversity of the world's Muslim societies whilst encouraging students to critically analyse some of the major global, international and transnational trends and movements that cut across borders and connect Muslims across the world. For further information about the programme CLICK HERE.
Alwaleed Centre colleagues delivered a number of fascinating courses as part of the programme which attracted large numbers of students from a variety of subject areas across the University of Edinburgh. Courses included:
- Regional Perspectives in a Globalised Muslim World
- International, Transnational and Globalised Dynamics of the Muslim world
- Research and Dissertation Methods on the Muslim World
- Globalised Muslim Politics
- Muslims in Europe
Muslim Africa in Global Perspective
- Muslim Society in Southeast Asia
- Islamic Africa
- Unfolding Afghanistan in a Globalised Context
We look forward to developing the Globalsied Muslim World further in the 2023/24 academic year, a well as exploring the potential for a fully online version of the programme under consideration.
If you would like any further information about the Alwaleed Centre and its many areas of work, please do not hesitate to contact us: email@example.com.