The AlterUmma Team
Prof Oliver Scharbrodt
Oliver Scharbrodt is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Birmingham. His research expertise covers the intellectual history of modern Islam, Muslim minorities in Europe and the historical, discursive and social formations of transnational networks within modern and contemporary Islam, with a particular focus on Twelver Shia Islam. Oliver Scharbrodt was the principal investigator of a research project on Muslims in Ireland, funded by the Irish Research Council (2008-2011), and co-authored Muslims in Ireland: Past and Present (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015). He led a project on transnational Twelver Shia networks that operate between Britain and the Middle East, focussing in particular on London a major global hub of transnational and diasporic of Shia religio-political activism, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Oliver Scharbrodt is the editor-in-chief of the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe (Leiden: Brill), an annual publication featuring up-to-date research and analysis of activities, trends and developments around Muslims across Europe.
Dr Christopher Pooya Razavian
Christopher Pooya Razavian’s research is focused on the relationship between tradition and modernity in Islam. His main focus is on the concept of autonomy and Imami thought and argues that greater attention needs to be paid to the discursive nature of autonomy and tradition. He has spent many years in Iran, at both the Islamic Seminary and the University of Tehran. He received his PhD from the University of Exeter under the supervision of Prof Sajjad Rizvi. He recently finished a post-doctoral research position at the University of Oxford working on an ERC funded project ‘Changing Structures of Islamic Authority’, led by Prof Masooda Bano. His research focused on legal hermeneutics within Sunni thought. He is currently a post-doctoral research fellow on the ERC funded project titled AlterUmma, led by Prof Oliver Scharbrodt, which investigates the transformation of Shia Islam in the Middle East and Europe since the 1950s. For this project, his research is focused on Morteza Motahhari's concept of social justice.
Dr Oula Kadhum
Oula Kadhum’s research explores Middle Eastern politics and society from a transnational perspective, with a focus on diasporic communities. It examines diasporic individuals and groups, as non-state actors, who are contributing to political processes in their real or perceived homelands, through transnational political mobilisation. Further, her research inspects the ways that both homeland and hostland contexts shape practices and actions, as well as how the intersectional dynamics of individual/group identity/ies can inhibit or create opportunities for political mobilisation.
Currently, she is exploring Iraqi Shia transnational mobilisation in the UK as part of the ERC funded ALTERUMMA project. Previously, as a PhD Research Fellow, she worked on the Diaspora and Contested Sovereignty ERC funded project at the University of Warwick where she focused on the Iraqi diaspora in the UK, Sweden and Germany. Her doctoral thesis, Diasporic Interventions: State building in Iraq following the 2003 Iraq War, compared the UK and Swedish diaspora's involvement in state building during intervention, occupation and following the country's first democratic elections.
Yousif Al-Hilli graduated with a Master’s degree in Middle East Politics at SOAS University and has an undergraduate degree in Politics and Sociology from Brunel University. His research interests include informality within political and religious institutions, and the role of religion within states in the Middle East.
He is currently working as part of the AlterUmma project to investigate the ways in which the clerical establishment in Iraq have positioned themselves post-2003. Specifically, his research focuses on clerical behaviour in practice and questions the validity of the simplistic dichotomy between political quietism and political activism often used to explain clerical behaviour.