One of the characteristics of academic life is often mobility. I have been very mobile in the last ten years. And now it is time to move again. By the 31st August 2008, I officially leave the University of Aberdeen, Religious Studies, since I have accepted UWS’ offer for a new position as Associate Professor (UK equivalent of Readership) in the Anthropology of Islam. UWS, together with Melbourne University and Griffith University, has given life to an innovative centre for studying Islam and Muslims, The National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies (NCEIS), which aims to deliver world-class, multi-disciplinary teaching and research in Islamic Studies at a regional, national and international level. I will contribute, in different ways, to the development of this ambitious project.
Yet, before I can enjoy, after so much Scottish drizzle, Sydney’s nice weather and beaches, I will spend (visa permitting) one year-long leave at Asia Research Institute, at the Religion and Globalisation Cluster National University Singapore, as Visiting Senior Researcher conducting research about, and fieldwork among, the Malay Singaporean Muslim community. As you can see, this has been a very exciting year with many changes.
Some of you may be surprised about my decision of both leaving the UK, which I consider home, and also Europe altogether. Yet there are some very good reasons for what has been a difficult decision. The University of Western Sydney is a dynamic and internationally oriented university located in Sydney (which is one of the best cities in the world!).
UWS has strong links with the local community and surely is a very interesting place for an anthropologist studying Muslims. The main campus in which my office will be located, Bankstown, is in one of Sydney’s suburbs with the highest number of Muslims, with a strong presence of Australian Lebanese. Secondly, I will be part of a new team of colleagues specialised in different fields of studying Muslims and Islam. Finally I will be very much involved in research and postgraduate studies. It is surely fascinating to be part of a project which is just starting.
During my stay both in Singapore and then Sydney, I will have the occasion to expand my research interest to Asia, in particular Malaysia (yes…I am having fun studying Malay!), as well as the Muslim communities in Australia. You will be surprised to discover that in Sydney there are quite interesting and challenging themes of research to develop and conduct. You can expect some more posts about it in future.