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.
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 Fouad Gehad Marei
Fouad Gehad Marei is a Research Associate at the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham. His research focuses on Muslim religiosities, piety, Shii politics, Islamic eschatology, sectarianism and jihadism as well as on state-society relations, and governance. He has research experience in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and is particularly interested in conflict and post-conflict dynamics. As a member of the AlterUmma project, Fouad's ongoing research examines Shii ritual practices and cultures in the Middle East and the diaspora. He has previously worked at the Max Weber Centre of the University of Erfurt, Germany, and the Orient Institute in Beirut, Lebanon. Fouad holds a PhD from Durham University.
Dr Nada Al-Hudaid
Nada Al-Hudaid researches Shia religious art in the Middle East and how art is employed in the service (khidmah) of Ahl Al-Bayt. Her PhD thesis at the University of Manchester explored the materiality of Shia art among pious women in Kuwait and what role art plays in the lives of these women. For the Ulterumma project, she will focus on the materiality of dreams and miracles in contemporary Shii art.
Dr Stefan Williamson Fa
Stefan Williamson Fa is an anthropologist specialising in sensory and material approaches to the study of religion. He has conducted extensive research in Turkey, the Caucasus and Iran as well as in his home region of Gibraltar and Andalusia. Stefan received a PhD in Social Anthropology from University College London in 2019 and is currently working on a manuscript and ethnographic film based on this research tentatively titled "Resounding Love for the Household of the Prophet". This work takes the sonic as a field of enquiry and methodology to listen to the ways that sound – practices of recitation and listening- mediates between bodies, both somatic and social, and the divine in the lives of Twelver Shii Muslims in Turkey. Within the AlterUmma project he will continue this research by investigating patterns of ritual change and translocal flows across Turkish-speaking Twelver Shii communities in the post-Soviet Caucasus region.