Sussex Asia Centre


Inter-Asian Dynamics Research Network

Network Coordinator

Professor Magnus Marsden (Director of Sussex Asia Centre, Department of Anthropology, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex)

Magnus MarsdenProfessor Magnus Marsden is the director of the University of Sussex Asia Centre (USAC). He joined Sussex in November 2013 from SOAS, University of London where he was Reader in Social Anthropology. He studied for his BA and PhD degrees at Cambridge University, where he was also Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Graduate Officer in Research at the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge.

University of Sussex

Professor Vinita Damodaran (Professor of History; School of History)

Professor Vinita DamodaranProfessor Damodaran is a historian of modern India, interested in sustainable development dialogues in the global South. Her work ranges from the social and political history of Bihar to the environmental history of South Asia, including using historical records to understand climate change in the Indian Ocean World. Her publications include; Broken Promises, Indian Nationalism and the Congress Party in Bihar (1992),  Nature and the Orient, Essays on the Environmental History of South and South-East Asia(1998),Post Colonial India, History Politics and Culture (2000), British empire and the natural world: environmental encounters in South Asia, (2010), East India Company and the Natural world (2014). She is also the author of several articles in established journals. She is particularly interested in questions of environmental change, identity and resistance in Eastern India. An experienced researcher and teacher she has an M.Phil from JNU and a PhD from Cambridge. Currently, she is the director of the Centre for World Environmental History at Sussex. The centre is host to several research projects and a number of research associates. Dr Damodaran has had several research grants for her work from the ESRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and the AHRC. She is currently leading an AHRC network project on the botanical and meteorological history of the Indian Ocean and is working on two projects one with the McGill university and the seond with Noragric. The centre collaborates actively with Kew Gardens, the British Library, the U.K. Met office and several international institutions both in India and elsewhere  such as JNU, the Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, the Indian Museum, Kolkata, the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, and Mcgill University, Canada and IDS, Sussex. She is engaged in building up the profile of South Asian studies and environmental history at the University of Sussex and internationally. She currently supervises 6 Phd students and is mentoring several post-doctoral scholars. She is also co-editor of the Palgrave series in World Environmental History.

Professor Louise Morley (Professor of Education, School of Education and Social Work)

Professor Louise MorleyLouise Morley AcSS is a Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER) ( at the University of Sussex, UK. Her previous posts were at the Institute of Education, University of London, the University of Reading and the Inner London Education Authority.

She is an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences, a Fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education, and a Senior Visiting Fellow, The Centre for Gender Excellence (GEXcel), University of Örebro, Sweden.

Louise has an international profile in the field of sociology of higher education studies. She has given keynote presentations, undertaken research and consultancy and has been a visiting academic in a range of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Finland, France, The Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, and the USA .

Her research and publication interests focus on international higher education policy, gender, equity, women and leadership, micropolitics, quality, and power.

She has recently completed an ESRC/DFID funded research project on Widening Participation in Higher Education in Ghana and Tanzania, and is currently working on the knowledge transfer of this project (

She directed a DFID/ Carnegie funded research project on Gender Equity in Commonwealth Higher Education. In the UK, she has conducted policy research for HEFCE on establishing the needs of employers for information about the quality and standards of higher education provision (

Her publications include Gender Equity in Selected Commonwealth Universities Research Report No. 65, DFID (2006); Quality and Power in Higher Education  (2003) Open University Press; Organising Feminisms: The Micropolitics of The Academy (1999), Macmillan.

She is on the editorial boards for 'Studies in Higher Education', ' Gender and Education', 'Teaching in Higher Education', and on the International Advisory Boards for 'Education, Citizenship and Social Justice' and 'Studies in Research: Training, Evaluation and Impact'.

She has also recently been the external examiner for the DBA in Higher Education Management at the University of Bath and the external examiner for the MA in Academic Practice at King's College, London.

Professor Filippo Osella (Professor of Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Professor Filippo OsellaFilippo Osella is Professor in Anthropology and South Asian Studies and over the years he has conducted research in South India (Kerala), Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as in a number of countries in West Asia. His research interests include social reproduction, popular religion (Islam and Hinduism), labour migration, masculinity, charity and philanthropy. He is co-author of Men and Masculinities in South India (with Caroline Osella, 2006) and Social Mobility in Kerala (with Caroline Osella, 2000).  He is co-editor of Islam, Politics, Anthropology (with Ben Soares, 2010), Migration, Modernity and Social Transformation in South Asia (with Katy Gardner, 2004); South Asian Masculinities: Context of Change, Sites of Continuity (with Caroline Osella and Radhika Chopra, 2004) and Islamic Reform in South Asia (with Caroline Osella, 2012). His current research concerns relations between economic and religious practice amongst South Asian Muslims, and he is co-investigator on an ESRC/DfID-funded research project on contemporary charity and philanthropy in Sri Lanka. He is currently editing a special issue of Modern Asian Studies on Charity & Philanthropy in South Asia (with Sumathi Ramaswamy) and an edited collection on Religion and the Morality of the Market (with Daromir Rudnyckyj).

Dr Hilary Kalmbach (Lecturer in History, School of History)

Dr Hilary KalmbachDr Hilary Kalmbach's first degree was from Princeton University, in Near Eastern Studies, during which she studied Arabic at Middlebury College's Summer Language School.  She then held a Fulbright Fellowship in Damascus, Syria, and a Clarendon Fellowship, which funded her masters and doctoral studies at St Antony's College, Oxford.  At Oxford, she worked with Dr Walter Armbrust (supervisor), Dr Eugene Rogan (instructor, examiner), and Dr James McDougall (examiner).  Before coming to Sussex, she held a postdoctoral position, the Sir Christopher Cox Junior Fellowship at New College, Oxford.  

Dr Kalmbach is the President of the Syrian Studies Assocation (SSA) for 2016 and 2017.  She is also on the councils of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and the British Society for Islamic Studies (BRAIS).  She is a member of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA).

Dr Alice Wilson (Lecturer in Social Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Dr Alice WilsonI am a social anthropologist, with research interests in the political and economic anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa. My work is concerned with transformations in the relationship between governing authorities and governed subjects. My monograph, Sovereignty in exile: a Saharan liberation movement governs (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), examines sovereignty through the case of the government-in-exile of Western Sahara’s liberation movement. Through a study of revolutionary social change, legal reform, democratization, and economic entwinements of aid and informal trade, Sovereignty in exile explores insights into state power brought to light by the changing significance of tribes amongst Western Sahara’s refugees.

In recent fieldwork and research, I have examined perceptions of the Arab Spring in North Africa. I have also further pursued the themes of exile, migration and social transformation from the perspective of post-exile forms of migration, and the spatial and social ambiguities of 'sedentarisation' in refugee camps for refugees who identify with life in nomadic encampments. As a member of the PROMETEE research project (summary in English) which focuses on the legal anthropology of property in Muslim contexts, I am also working on the creation of new forms of property in exile. I am a co-guest editor for a special issue with Geoforum on political legitimacy in anomalous governing authorities, such as unrecognised states, annexed territories and refugee populations. I recently held a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant for fieldwork for my second research project on citizenship practices in southern Oman.

I currently teach undergraduate and graduate students across the following fields: political anthropology, economic anthropology, social theory and anthropology of the Middle East

I joined the University of Sussex as a Lecturer in Social Anthropology in September 2016. Previously I enjoyed post-docs as an Addison Wheeler Research Fellow at Durham University (2014-2016) and as a Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College, University of Cambridge (2011-2016). I gained my PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (2011).

Working languages: English, French, Spanish (fluent); Arabic and Hassaniya dialect (excellent).

Dr Saheira HalielDr Saheira Haliel (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, TRODITIES project, School of Global Studies)

Dr. Heila Sha (Saheira Haliel) will conduct research in Yiwu concerning the interactions between local and incoming Chinese citizens (of Han, Hui, and Uyghure background ) and international traders across the domains of business practice, marriage, friendship, sexuality, and religion.

Dr Diana Ibanez Tirado (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, TRODITIES project, School of Global Studies)

Dr Diana Ibanez TiradoPhD Social Anthropology - SOAS, University of London; MA Social Anthropology - SOAS, University of London; MA Middle East Studies - El Colegio de Mexico; BA International Relations - National Autonomous University of Mexico

I am a social anthropologist trained at SOAS, University of London. I have also a background in International Relations (UNAM) and Middle East Studies (El Colegio de Mexico). I have in depth experience of research in Tajikistan: my doctoral research investigated subjectivity and temporality in Kulob, southern Tajikistan.

The Camel Trust Small Grant for Anthropological Research (2015) funded my postdoctoral research “Intimacy and touch: embodied care and the shaping of Muslim families in Tajikistan”. This project analysed forms of care that are sensuous and tactile, and examined the ways in which this type of care shapes the diverse arrangements of Muslim families in Tajikistan. I have also conducted anthropological research and published about intimacy and multi-ethnic family life in the cosmopolitan port city of Odessa in Ukraine.

From October 2015, I joined a team of scholars working on the project: “Yiwu: Trust, Global Traders and Commodities in a Chinese International City” (TRODITIES) funded by an ERC-Advanced Grant. My focus in this collaborative project revolves around the circulation of people, commodities and knowledge, as well as the gendered aspects of trade between Yiwu and Central Asia.

Dr Marina Marouda (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, TRODITIES project, School of Global Studies]

Dr Marina MaroudaDr Marina Marouda is a research fellow at the department of Anthropology. She received her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh. Her ESRC-funded doctoral research was concerned with death rituals, kinship and politics in contemporary Viet Nam, and received an award from the Royal Anthropological institute (Sutasoma award).

Marina has carried out extensive fieldwork in Vietnam over several years. Her original research deals with the ways in which the dead are made to be intimately connected to the living, particularly in ritual settings, and the manner in which such connections are inflected by the national and communist revolutions, as well as by the country’s recent transition to market-socialism.

Before coming to Sussex, she held postdoctoral fellowships at SOAS, University of London (ESRC fellowship), and at IIAS (International Institute for Asian Studies), Leiden. More recently, she was involved in an ERC-funded collaborative project entitled ‘Bionetworking in Asia’, in which she conducted research on stem-cell applications, science-based entrepreneurship and market-making processes in Viet Nam.

In August 2016, she joined a team of scholars working on an ERC-funded project entitled “Yiwu: Trust, Global Traders and Commodities in a Chinese International City” (TRODITIES). The project involves a consortium of four universities namely Sussex, Cambridge, Copenhagen and Royal Holloway London. Research is concerned with transnational trading activities involving Chinese-made commodities, and how such activities facilitate flows of goods as well as ideas, knowledge and people. As part of this project, Marina looks at the entrepreneurial activities of overseas Vietnamese, especially in places like China and Eastern Europe, and asses the significance of such activities for the making of transnational marketplaces and the facilitation of transcultural flows.

Research interests: social study of markets and entrepreneurship; science entrepreneurship; kinship and sociality; religion and ritual; social transformation; past and present; ethnography of the state; Viet Nam; South East Asia; Vietnamese diasporas.

Dr David Sancho (British Academy Fellow, Department of Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Dr David SanchoI am an anthropologist with degrees from the University of Sussex (MSc, 2008; PhD 2012), the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (MA, 2005), and the University of Florida (BA, 2003). My doctoral research focused on the (re)emergence of the private schooling sector and its role in the (re)production of inequalities within the spectrum of the middle classes in urban south India. As a Leach/RAI Research Fellow at Brunel University London I completed a monograph (with Routledge) based on his doctoral research titled Youth, Class and Education in Urban India: The year that can break or make you. Currently, I am a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sussex. My current work is concerned with the production and circulation of transnational schooling between Indian and the Gulf countries of West Asia, and its relationship with the emergence of a transnationally mobile Indian middle-class and ideas of transnational belonging and citizenship.

Mr Naveed Ahmad (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Mr Naveed AhmadNaveed Ahmad Shinwari is the Founding Chief Executive of CAMP and has over 19 years of experience in the development sector. He has rich experience designing and conducting qualitative and quantitative research. Mr Shinwari is the author of the ‘Understanding FATA’ (five volumes) and several other publications including the latest “Understanding the Informal Justice system: Opportunities and possibilities for legal pluralism in Pakistan”, and “Understanding Jirga”. He holds MSc in Social Research Methods from the University of Sussex, UK and is pursuing his PhD in Social Anthropology from the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. Mr Shinwari also holds a Bachelors in Engineering (B.E) in Electronics from N. E. D. University of Engineering & Technology, MBA Degree in Project Management and an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) from Fordham University, New York.

He remains actively involved in several national and global advocacy networks. Mr. Shinwari founded the Community Motivation and Development Organization (CMDO) and worked as its Chief Executive before laying the foundations for CAMP. He is also the founder of the UK-based charity organisation “PEOPLE International”.

Ms Idil Akinci (PhD Candidate, Migration Studies, School of Global Studies)

Ms Idil AkinciAfter having lived and worked in the field of communications consultancy in the United Arab Emirates (2008-2012), I moved to the UK to undertake my MA in Sociology from City, University of London. Awarded distinction, my MA thesis looked at the understandings of identity and belonging among second generation South Asian migrants in Dubai.

My PhD project, funded by Chancellor's International Research Scholarship at the University of Sussex, follows my MA research, focusing on the issues of national identity, citizenship and belonging both among Emirati citizens of Dubai and second generation Arab migrants in Dubai, originating from various parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

Ms Soha Alterkait (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Ms Soha Alterkait is studying for a PhD in Anthropology and International Development in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. Her work focuses on the nature of Islamic charity, especially waqf and zakat, in Kuwait. She is in the first year of her PhD; in future years she intends to carry out research with a wide-range of institutions and individuals involved in the field of Islamic charity in Kuwait.

Mr Yunlong JiaMr Yunlong Jia (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Mr Yunlong Jia is studying for a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, where he holds a Sussex/China Scholarship Council joint scholarship. Yunlong is fluent in Persian, having learned the language during his undergraduate studied in Beijing. Before joining Sussex, Yunlong studied Anthropology and the Middle East at SOAS, University of London. His research currently focuses on the diverse experiences of Iranian migrants and merchants in Turkey, especially Istanbul. Yunlong is an affiliated PhD student at Koç University.

Ms Tang ManMs Tang Man (PhD Candidate, Social Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Ms Tang Man is a first year doctoral candidate studying for a PhD in social anthropology at the University of Sussex. Before joining Sussex, she was part of a research team at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu working on China’s HSR development that aims at the infrastructural construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ trans-Asian highway. Her research focuses on the socio-economic effects of the rail infrastructure on the lifeworlds of cross-border minorities across Northwest China and Central Asia.

Dr Caroline OsellaDr Caroline Osella (Research Associate, Anthropology, School of Global Studies)

Caroline Osella is a Research Associate at the Sussex Asia Centre. She completed a BA (1988) and PhD (1993) in social anthropology at the LSE before working for 20 years at SOAS in the Anthropology Department, where she taught courses on Anthropologies of Sex / Gender / Sexuality; South Asian Culture and Society; and the Ethnography of Islam. Her research interests centres on the ways in which embodiment and materiality play out in identity crafting, and the processes by which socially constructed bodies are mobilised to underwrite difference and othering. Caroline is engaged in arts-based methods of research and communication, including creative writing and live art. Caroline's publications, many co-authored with Filippo Osella, have covered social mobility and identity change within the context of social reform movements, consumption, the production and performance of masculinities, social aspects of migration, debates in Islam, aspects of South Indian material cultures (food, fashion), and contemporary superdiversity.  Her publications can be found at ORCID. Caroline blogs at

Ms Ireena Nasiha IbnuMs Ireena Nasiha Ibnu (PhD Candidate, Migration studies, School of Global Studies)

Ireena Nasiha Ibnu is a third-year PhD student in Migration studies at the University of Sussex, UK. Her doctoral work explores the migration experiences of Malaysian Muslim female students in the UK. She is particularly interested in the Islamic piety movements among the Malaysian students in the UK. Her research also intends to explore the dynamics of the particular city that shapes the experience of Malaysian Muslim girls. She holds an MA in Communication Management (Distinction) from National University of Malaysia (UKM) and BA in Communication from the University Sains Malaysia (USM).  Her research is supported by the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA). She can be contacted at i.ibnu@sussex.

Mr Dilmurod YusupovMr Dilmurad Yusupov (PhD Candidate, Institute of Development Studies)

Dilmurad Yusupov is a PhD student at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Sussex. Prior to joining IDS he worked for Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan in the projects and programmes on disability and social development. He completed his MA in Economics at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan as well as BA in Economics at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University)."

Dr Maxmillan Martin (Research fellow, School of Global Studies)

Max Martin is a research fellow currently engaged in field work in Thiruvananthapuram as part of a Sussex Sustainability Research Programme study aimed at better risk communication for local fishers. Max is a geographer studying people’s responses to climate, weather and hazards. His earlier work focused on climate, environmental hazards and migration in Bangladesh.

National University of Singapore

Professor Engseng Ho (Director, Middle East Research Institut)

Professor Engseng HoEngseng Ho is Director of the Middle East Institute, and Muhammad Alagil Distinguished Visiting Professor of Arabia Asia Studies at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. At Duke University, he is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History. He is a leading scholar of transnational anthropology, history and Muslim societies, Arab diasporas, and the Indian Ocean. His research expertise is in Arabia, coastal South Asia and maritime Southeast Asia, and he maintains active collaborations with scholars in these regions. He serves on the editorial boards of journals such as American Anthropologist, Comparative Studies in Society and History, History and Anthropology, Modern Asian Studies. He is co-editor of the Asian Connections book series at Cambridge University Press. He has previously worked as Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University; Senior Scholar, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies; Country and Profile Writer, the Economist Group; International Economist, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation/Monetary Authority of Singapore. He was educated at the Penang Free School, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago.

Professor Jonathan Rigg (Director, Asia Research Institute)

Professor Jonathan RiggJonathan Rigg has commenced a three-year appointment as Director at ARI with effect from 1 January 2016. He has been a Professor in the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore since 2013. Prior to that, he was Head of the Geography Department at Durham University in the UK. He was also based at the School of Oriental & African Studies, London University where he was a Lecturer, British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, and PhD student.

He is a development geographer interested in understanding the human effects of social and economic (and, to some extent, environmental) transformations in the Asian region. Initially, he focused on farming and agriculture, later extending his research to migration, urban living, livelihoods, popular participation, and resilience. Just as his thematic areas of interest have broadened so too has the geographical scope of his work, expanding from Thailand; then to Laos (where he was interested in understanding how rural households negotiated transition and reform); and more latterly to Sri Lanka (migration), Vietnam (migrants in Hanoi) and Nepal (resilience to earthquakes). Increasingly his work has also been linked to and funded through interdisciplinary projects. Often this has been in collaboration with past PhD students (he has supervised some 25 PhD students to completion).

He is currently working on a new book with the working title Thai rural, and three research projects. The first of these projects is transdisciplinary and focuses on resilience to earthquakes in the continental interior of Asia (Nepal/Bihar, Kazakhstan and China); the second, addresses the issue of land ownership, use and transfer in Thailand; and the third, an AcRF Tier 2 grant (with A/P Eric Thompson) on the smallholder in East and Southeast Asia’s development.

Professor Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho (Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Senior Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute)

Prof Elaine HoElaine Lynn-Ee Ho is Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore. Her research addresses how citizenship is changing as a result of multi-directional migration flows in the Asia-Pacific. She is author of Citizens in Motion: Emigration, Immigration and Re-migration Across China's Borders (2019; Stanford University Press). Her current research focuses on two domains: first, transnational ageing and care in the Asia-Pacific; and second, im/mobilities and diaspora aid at the China-Myanmar border. Elaine is Section Editor of the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2nd edition), Editor of Social and Cultural Geography, and serves on the journal editorial boards of Citizenship Studies; Emotions, Society and Space; and the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. 

Professor James Sidaway (Professor of Political Geography)

Professor James SidawayProfessor James D. Sidaway (1964) has been named professor of Political and Cultural Geography at the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. His research mainly centres on political and developmental geography and the areas in which the two disciplines overlap. He also conducts research on the history and philosophy of geography. Sidaway studies economic geography, with a special focus on the aspects of money and financing. He recently conducted research on migrant communities and the urbanisation process in the Persian Gulf. Sidaway has also studied cross-border relationships between Singapore and its neighbours and in Western Europe in the context of European integration. In future, he will also be devoting attention to the evolution of long distance paths within Europe, with a special focus on cross-border trails. 

Sidaway has served as professor of Human Geography at the University of Plymouth since 2006. His previous employers include Loughborough University in Great Britain and the National University of Singapore. In his capacity as visiting Professor, Sidaway has lectured at institutes such as the University of Seville and Nijmegen Radboud University. He serves as associate editor of Political Geography and co-editor of the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography.

Dr Nisha Mathew (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute)

Dr Nisha MathewDr Mathew has commenced a one-year appointment as a Muhammad Alagil Postdoctoral Fellow in Arabia Asia Studies within the Asian Connections Metacluster with effect from 12 June 2015.

Dr Mathew received her PhD in History from Wits University, Johannesburg in 2014. Her dissertation, Understanding Space, Politics and History in the Making of Dubai, A Global City, is a commercial history of the city explored through the complex interface of commodity, capital and community across the Indian Ocean from the 19th to the 21st century. Many different forms of informal, even illegal trade, she illustrates, have been instrumental to the evolution of Dubai as an urban space both within and beyond empire. Likewise, the contributions of such activities as smuggling and counterfeiting to the trajectory and discourse of global urban capital in 21st century Dubai also form a key aspect of her research. Informal trade in Dubai as she investigates it, is a socially, politically and culturally engineered system of transactions often coinciding with legitimate activity and underwritten by particular hierarchies of power and equations of social mobility. These hierarchies and equations have their bases in spatial imaginations and configurations beyond the city and the state, both in an abstract sense and in terms of their territorial borders. Dr. Mathew captures these other geographies and geographical imaginations of trade constitutive of Dubai through the social optics and cultural vocabularies of different migrant trading communities of Indians who continue to be at the helm of the city's mercantile and financial activity flows even today.

Dr Shuang Wen (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Middle East Institute)

Dr Shuang WenShuang Wen earned a PhD in Transregional History (modern Middle East and East Asia) from Georgetown University in 2015 and an MA in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo in 2008. She also received additional Arabic language certificates from the University of Damascus and Middlebury College. Before switching career to the academy, she was a broadcast journalist for Phoenix Satellite Television InfoNews Channel in Hong Kong (2003-06), covering events in the Middle East, such as the humanitarian crisis during the 2006 Hizbullah-Israel conflicts, and worked as a Chinese-English simultaneous conference interpreter in Beijing (2001-03). Her publications include “Muslim Activist Encounters in Meiji Japan,” Middle East Reports 270 (Spring 2014) special issue on “China in the Middle East” published by the Middle East Research and Information Project in Washington DC and “Two Sides of the Story: How Historians and Journalists Can Work Together,” Perspectives on History 53:7 (October 2015) published by the American Historical Association.

Dr Serkan Yolacanm (Postdoctoral Research Fellow ARI/MIE National University of Singapore; Department of Anthropology, Duke University)

Dr Serkan YolacanSerkan Yolacan is a research associate at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on the role of diasporas and networks in the transformation of state and society. His book manuscript, entitled Order Beyond Borders: The Azerbaijani Triangle across Iran, Turkey, and Russia, employs diasporic analytics to explore transnational networks of religion, education, and business across West Asia. He holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University and a master’s in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the Central European University. Prior to obtaining his doctoral degree, he worked as Projects Officer at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) in Istanbul. 

Koç University Asia Centre

Dr Şebnem Köşer Akçapar (Department of Sociology, Director,  KUASIA)

Dr Şebnem AkçaparSebnem Koser Akcapar is currently working as Associate Professor at the Sociology Department, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey. She is also the founding Director of Center for Asian Studies (KUASIA) at Koç University. After completing her PhD at the Katholieke Universitat Leuven in Belgium on the role of social networks in facilitating irregular migrant flows and the survival strategies in transit countries, she moved to the USA where she worked as a post-doc visiting fellow for two years at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University. Soon afterwards, she was affiliated with the Graduate Center for German and European Studies, School of Foreign Service, at Georgetown University and taught graduate courses on Gender and Migration, Muslim Immigrants in Western Europe and North America, and Muslim Communities in the USA. Between 2011 and 2012, she was appointed as the Director of Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Georgetown University. Between 2013 and 2015, she worked as visiting professor in different universities in New Delhi, India, where she conducted comparative research on diaspora, labor migrants, and refugees. Apart from her book and edited volumes on international migration and Muslim communities in Europe and North America, she published many book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her areas of interest include sociology of religion, religious minorities, gender and identity, international migration, asylum seekers and refugees, labor migration, and diaspora.

Dr Burak Gürel (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Koç University)

Dr Burak GürelI joined the Koç University faculty in 2015 after completing a PhD in sociology at Johns Hopkins University. My scholarly interests include political economy, historical sociology, rural development, social movements, and welfare politics, with a focus on China, India, and Turkey. I teach courses on social theory, historical sociology, political sociology, and Asian political economy. I was a Fox International Fellow at the MacMillan Center at Yale University in 2006-07 and a visiting researcher at the Center for Rural China Governance at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 2012, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University in Summer 2016.

Prof Ahmet Icduygu (Professor, Department of International Relations)

Professor Ahmet IcduyguAhmet İçduygu is Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Koç University, Istanbul Turkey. He currently holds a dual appointment as a full professor at Koç, one is in the Department of International Relations and the other is in the Department of Sociology. He is also the Director of the Migration Research Center at Koç University (MiReKoc). He holds a PhD in Demography from the Australian National University. He held visiting fellow positions at Stockholm University, the University of Warwick, the University of Manchester, and the European University Institute in Florence. He is an elected member of the Science Academy in Turkey. 

In addition to his own individual research projects, Prof. İçduygu has conducted various research projects for the international organizations such as IOM, UNHCR, EU, OECD and ILO. He teaches on migration studies, theories and practices of citizenship, international organizations, civil society, nationalism and ethnicity, and research methods. In addition to his numerous articles in scholarly journals, such as Ethnic and Racial Studies, Citizenship Studies, European Review, International Migration, International Labor and Working Class History, Population, Space and Place, and British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, his most recent books include:  Migration and Transformation: Multi-Level Analysis of Migrant Transnationalism, co-edited with P. Pitkänen and D. Sert (Springer, 2011), Countries of Migrants, Cities of Migrants – Italy, Spain, Turkey, co-edited with M. Balbo and J.P. Serrano (ISIS Press, 2013), and Critical Reflections in Migration Research: Views from the South and the North, co-edited with Ayşem Biriz Karaçay (Koç University Press, 2014).

Dr Damla Bayraktar (Coordinator, Koc University Migration Centre (MiReKoc))

Dr Damla BayraktarDr. Damla B. Aksel received her MA degree on Public Policy from Science Po Paris in 2009 and her PhD degree on Political Science and International Relations at Koç University in 2016. Aksel is currently a postdoctoral research fellow and the coordinator of Migration Research Center at Koç University. She has extensive research experience in the field of migration; she conducted and participated in different research projects on both incoming migrants to Turkey (i.e. Iraqi, Afghan, sub-Saharan African, Syrian migration), as well as migrants from Turkey living abroad, with topics including migration patterns, accessibility to rights, smuggling and transnationalism.


Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies

Dr Davood Moradian (Director General AISS; former Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)

Dr Davood MoradianDavood Moradian is a politician that was born in HeratAfghanistan. He served as Chief of Presidential Programs at President Hamid KarzaiOffice Afghanistan Senior Policy Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs also worked as Head of the Strategic Studies Center under the Foreign Ministry in Kabul Afghanistan. He is currently the General Director of Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS).

He has completed his undergraduate studies at the University of London, in the fields of International Relations and International Law. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from University of St. Andrews (Scotland), where he also taught International Relations. His thesis focused on a comparative study of the conception of punishment in the traditions of ancient Greece, Islam and international criminal justice. He is fluent in Persian as well as English and also knows some Pashto.

Dr Dadfar Rangin Spanta (AISS member; formerly Foreign Minister and National Security Advisor, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)

Dr Dadfar Rangin SpantaRangin Dadfar Spanta is currently President Hamid Karzai's Afghan National Security Advisor. Previously, he served as Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Afghanistan's parliament approved him on April 20, 2006, and he was sworn in by President Karzai on May 2, 2006. He served as Foreign Minister until he was replaced by Zalmai Rasul in January 2010.  Some political analysts speculate that the Americans were not happy with him, because Spanta was a former Marxists, and was sometimes critical of U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

Spanta was born in 1954 in the Karokh district of Afghanistan's western province of Herat.  He comes from a family of wealthy landowners.  His father was elected to Afghanistan's National Assembly in the 1960s during the reign of King Mohammad Zahir. Spanta completed his early education (primary and secondary schooling) in Herat, and then he enrolled in Kabul University.  He left the country in 1976 to study in Turkey.  After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Spanta went to Iran and there became involved in the publication of "Sada-ye Afghanistan" (Voice of Afghanistan). He then spent some time in Pakistan before settling in Germany (West) in 1982.  

In Germany, he earned a doctorate degree from RWTH Aachen University, and then spent the next 13 years there teaching as a professor of political science. Spanta also served as a spokesperson for the Alliance for Democracy in Afghanistan and was active in Germany's Green Party.

In early 2005, after the Taliban were removed from power, Spanta returned to Afghanistan and began to teach at Kabul University.  Later he was chosen to become a Senior Advisor on International Affairs to President Hamid Karzai, until he was eventually nominated to become Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006. 

A year after becoming Foreign Minister, many members of the lower house of Afghanistan's National Assembly (Wolesi Jirga) were upset at the alleged lack of response from Spanta on the mistreatment of Afghan refugees by Afghanistan's neighbors.  They attempted a vote of no-confidence against him, however, it did not pass.  Eventually, they were able to strip him of his status as Foreign Minister.  A few weeks later, on June 3, 2007, Afghanistan's Supreme Court declared the vote illegal and Spanta was once again Foreign Minister until he was finally replaced in 2010.

Mr Zalmai Nishat (AISS researcher; advisor to the Office of the Chief Executive, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)

Mr Zalmai NishatZalmai Nishat Darayi is a Research Associate at the Asia Centre of the University of Sussex. He has a BA in Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and an MA in Ideology and Discourse Anaylsis from the University of Essex. He is interested in the history of Afghanistan, Turkey and the wider region as well as nation-building and nationalism in Afghanistan, and Turkey. He is also interested in post-structuralist political philosophy and the debates on liberal constitutionalism with the aim in particular of using Skinner's pioneering contextualist method to explore Islamic/Persian 'intellectual history' (literary, political and philosophical texts) as well as in the analysis of the contributions that Persian thought has made to modern philosophy. Currently he is the strategic communication advisor in the Office of the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Abdul Ahad Mohammadi (Technical Advisor, Office of the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)

Abdul Ahad MohammadiAbdul Ahad Mohammadi was born in Jaghori district of Ghazni Province, Afghanistan on 11 September 1984. He graduated from Abdul Ghafoor Sultani High School in 2003 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Kabul University in 2008. He has a Master of Arts, also in Sociology, from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India in 2013.

Abdul Ahad Mohammadi works as a Technical Advisor in the Coordination Unit of the Executive Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the Office of the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Prior to joining his current job, Mohammadi worked with a range of national and international organizations. From October 2009 through to June 2011, he was a research assistant at Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) in Kabul, where he contributed to a study of local governance in six provinces across the country. Upon finishing his Master’s degree, he joined the Peace Studies Department at the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), Kabul as its head. In this capacity, Mohammadi managed a research project aimed towards examining radicalization across various sectors. He also oversaw studies on the peace process, constitutional amendments, social policies, and the political system in general. He served with AISS until late-2016.

In addition to his regular work, Mohammadi has served as an independent researcher or consultant with UNDP/LOTFA, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Civil and Liberal Initiative for Peace (CLIP), among others. From March to May 2015, Mohammadi worked as a research consultant with Civil Society and Human Rights Organization (CSHRN) in Kabul, Afghanistan to prepare a report on torture at major detention centers in the country. The report was submitted to the UN-Committee against Torture (UN-CAT). In May 2016, Mohammadi was seconded to manage an Afghanistan Women Judge Association (AWJA) and UN Women led study on major law enforcing institutions’ implementation of the law on elimination of violence against women (EVAW law).

Mohammadi is also the author of numerous research papers on diverse topics including politics, governance, police and legal reform, and human rights.

Ms Sediqa BakhtiariMs Sediqa Bakhtiari (AISS researcher; PhD candidate of cultural sociology in Tehran University)

Sediqa Bakhtiari is a PhD candidate of cultural sociology in university of Tehran. Her Master's was in Research in social sciences and her dissertation in that course is about masculinity and immigration in Afghanistan.

Associated Scholars

Dr Oleg Yarosh (Department of Oriental Philosophy, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)

Dr Oleg YaroshOleg was born on December 2, 1970 in Lviv then raised in Odesa and graduated from the Odesa State University with MA in History in 1993. He was admitted to a PhD program at the Institute of Philosophy in Kyiv in 1996. After that I got the Oxford Theological Exchange Program Scholarship and spent a full academic year (1997 – 1998) at the Balliol College, University of Oxford.

In 1999, he was admitted to a post-graduate program at the Graduate School for Social Research in Warsaw and completed the course without degree in 2003. In 2002, he received his PhD in Philosophical Anthropology from the Institute of Philosophy in Kyiv.

He started working at the Institute of Philosophy in 2000 as a Junior Research Fellow. Since 2006, he has been acting as head of the History of Oriental Philosophy Department in the same Institute.

He received several research fellowships: DAAD (2008), Fulbright Scholar Fellowship (2009), Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (2014), Swedish Institute Visby Senior Scholarship (2016 – 2017).

In 2011 – 2014, he participated as a core resource faculty in the Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching (ReSET) on Islamic Studies funded by the Open Society International Higher Education Support Program (HESP).

Oleg main research interests include: Islam in Central and Eastern Europe, Western Sufism, Anthropology of Religion and Comparative Philosophy. 

Dr David Henig (School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent at Canterbury)

Dr David HenigDavid Henig is a social anthropologist trained as the Wenner Gren Foundation’s Wadsworth International Fellow in Social Anthropology at Durham University. Before joining the School at Kent, he taught at SOAS in London. 
His theoretical interests include the dynamics of global political economy, transnational religious movements, the social life of imperial formations, and religious, political and economic cosmologies. He has carried out extensive fieldwork in the post-Ottoman frontier regions of the Muslim Balkans and the Caucasus, and a shorter fieldwork along the Sino-Persian frontiers around the Pamirian knot. He engages with these frontier perspectives as a way to reassess dominating analytical and geopolitical discourses in order to formulate novel ethnographic, historical, political and theoretical insights for these regions, and for anthropological theory more generally. His most recent interest centres on linking anthropology with global transnational history and diplomacy, comparative imperialism, international relations, and geopolitics.

Dr Paul AndersonDr Paul Anderson (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Al Waleed Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge)

Paul Anderson is the Prince Alwaleed Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, the Assistant Director of the University’s Prince Alwaleed Centre of Islamic Studies, and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. Dr Anderson is a social anthropologist interested in the articulation of economic, moral and religious life. His research has a particular focus on Islam, value, moral personhood and the sociality of trade. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Syria and China, and is currently part of an ERC-funded research project studying the global trade in low-grade Chinese commodities. He is also working on a monograph of Aleppo as a trading city before the outbreak of the current conflict in Syria. At the University of Cambridge, he teaches courses and supervises research on the anthropology of the Middle East, and the anthropology of Islam.

Dr Till Mostowlansky (Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and a research associate at the Sussex Asia Centre)

Dr Till MostowlanskyTill Mostowlansky is a Sin Wai-Kin Junior Fellow at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, and a research associate at the Sussex Asia Centre, University of Sussex. His research interests include the anthropology of modernity, infrastructure, charity, development and Islam in contemporary Central Asia and at its historical crossroads between Russian, British and Chinese influence. Till has published two monographs and contributed articles to various peer-reviewed journals, including Modern Asian StudiesCentral Asian Survey and Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. His first book Islam und Kirgisen on Tour: Die Rezeption “nomadischer Religion” und ihre Wirkung (Islam and Kyrgyz on Tour: The Perception of “Nomadic Religion” and Its Effects, Harrassowitz 2007) focuses on Islam and nomadic identity in Kyrgyzstan. His latest monograph Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway (University of Pittsburgh Press 2017) presents an in-depth anthropological study of people’s lives along a road through highland Central Asia. Emerging from his take on the Pamir Highway as a Soviet gift, in his ongoing research project Till studies past and present forms of charity and giving – nowadays often labelled “development” – from the perspective of anthropology and history. In this regard, since 2012 he has worked on the transformative force of Shia Muslim networks which dissect the borderlands of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan and mediate connectivity to places across Asia.

Nafay Choudhury (PhD candidate, Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London)

Nafay ChoudhuryNafay's PhD, funded by the SSHRC (Canada) and Modern Law Review, involves an ethnography of Afghanistan’s money exchangers to understand how trust relationships may sustain complex financial transactions. His research explores issues of social and legal ordering, economic exchange, identity, and legal development. He is currently a residential Research Fellow at the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies studying electoral representation in the country. Nafay was previously Assistant Professor of Law at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), where he taught and researched in the areas of contract law, legal pluralism, legal education, Islamic education (particularly madrasas), sociology of law, legal development and the rule of law.. He joined AUAF as part of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project at Stanford Law School, helping to establish the country’s first English-medium law program. He has contributed peer-reviewed articles to various journals, including Asian Journal of Law & Society, Suffolk Transnational Law Review, Afghan Journal of Legal Studies (forthcoming) and Religion, State & Society. He served as a Shari’ah Advisor for the Afghanistan International Bank. He has been a Visiting Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and was also a Researcher for the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics in Doha. Outside of academia, he volunteers alongside an international consortium of lawyers supporting refugees in Europe. He holds a LLB/BCL (McGill), MA (Queen’s University, Canada) in economics, and BA (McGill) in economics.

Hasan H. Karrar (Associate professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) )

Hasan H. KarrarHasan H. Karrar specializes in modern Chinese and Central Asian history and political economy. He works on economic and political configurations in the greater Central Asian region (inclusive of western China and northern Pakistan) since the 1980s. These include informal markets and bazaar networks; economic corridors and ongoing iterations of the Silk Road trope; border regimes and emerging spatial configurations. Within this broad geographical and thematic terrain, Karrar’s work is presently focused on two areas: bazaar trade in Central Asia since the 1980s, and evolving border regimes along Karakoram-Pamir watershed over the last century. Karrar’s recent work has appeared in China Information, Globalizations, Central Asian Survey, Critical Asian Studies, and with co-authors in Political Geography, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism and Critical Public Health. His earlier research on the development of Sino-Central Asian relations appeared as The New Silk Road Diplomacy: China’s Central Asian Foreign Policy Since the Cold War (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009).

Dr Diana T. Kudaibergenova 

Diana Kudaibergenova is a political and cultural sociologist working on social theory of power, nationalism, law, and elites in a comparative and historical perspective.

Her first book, Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh literature (Lexington, 2017) deals with the study of nationalism, modernisation and cultural development in modern Kazakhstan and her forthcoming book focuses on the rise of nationalising regimes in post-Soviet space after 1991. Currently she is completing her third book manuscript on power, state and resistance in contemporary art of the post-Soviet sphere.

Her articles appeared in Nationalities Papers, Central Asian Affairs, European Journal of Cultural Studies and Journal of Eurasian Studies. Kudaibergenova’s overall approach to the study of power is also reflected in her current 2-year long project on Crimea.

Dr Salah Punathil

Salah PunathilSalah Punathil is a Sociologist and Assistant Professor at the Centre for Regional Studies, University of Hyderabad, India. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany. He has taught Sociology at Tezpur University, Assam (September 2011 to June 2014) and Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (July 2009 to May 2010). His research interest includes ethnic violence, migration, citizenship, Muslims in South Asia and the intersection of archives and ethnography. His book ‘Interrogating Communalism: Violence, Citizenship and Minorities in South India’ is published by Routledge in 2019. The book examines conflict and violence among religious minorities and the implication on the idea of citizenship in contemporary India. Including rich empirical evidence from historical and ethnographic material, Salah shows how the contours of violence among minorities position Muslims as more vulnerable subjects of violent conflicts. He has published articles in journals such as South Asia Research and Contributions to Indian Sociology. Punathil is the recipient of M.N Srinivas Award for Young Indian Sociologist, 2015. Salah’s current research focuses on the migration of Muslims from the present day Bangladesh region to the North East India and the crisis of citizenship and ethnic violence in contemporary time. While historicizing the migration question in South Asia, his work aims to explore how national and ethnic boundaries affects the everyday lives of migrant communities.

Dr Ka-Kin Cheuk

Ka-Kin CheukKa-Kin Cheuk is the Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Asian Studies at Rice University’s Chao Center for Asian Studies. Dr. Cheuk is an anthropologist whose work revolves around the studies of globalization, migration, transnationalism, and Inter-Asian connections with geographic focuses on China, Hong Kong, and South Asia. He previously held teaching and research positions at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Universiteit Leiden, and NYU Shanghai. His ongoing book project is an ethnographic study of a third-tier Chinese city called Keqiao. Based on a two-phased, long-term ethnographic fieldwork in 2010-2012 and 2016-2017, the book explicates the significance of Indian-Chinese trade in Keqiao in terms of its transnational connectivity and global economic implications. Dr Cheuk is currently developing a new research project on flower industries and transnational circuits of environmental morality.

His articles have been published in journals such as The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology and he recently joined the editorial board of Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration. He has conducted a decade-long fieldwork on the Sikh diaspora in Hong Kong and Indian textile traders in southeast China.