On the 16th of July, UWS launched a new Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies as part of its partnership with NCEIS (National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies). I have received emails and queries about my involvement and position with the centre, as well as questions about its program and agenda. Since I have been mentioned as one of the ‘senior academics’ appointed to the new centre, and since some academic colleagues were aware of my intention and efforts for the past two years to start a centre along the same lines, I feel that I need to clarify the current situation and my collaboration on this project with my friend, and co-editor of the book series Muslims in Global Societies, Prof. Bryan Turner.
The original idea for this centre began with my earlier endeavors, such as my journal, which I founded when I was at the University of Aberdeen. I discussed further the idea of starting a centre with Prof. Bryan Turner in Amsterdam during a symposium I organized with the publisher Springer to launch my journal, Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslims life. As we both moved to UWS, we decided to work together towards establishing the centre with the intention of leading it together.
Unfortunately, my role within the centre has been gravely marginalized in the past months, and my involvement has not been publicly acknowledged, so that Prof. Bryan Turner is now recognized as the only foundation Director (UWS apparently lacks a position title of ‘Deputy Director’ for their research centres) and is solely responsible for setting the agenda and program (as well as the appointments) for this new centre. The foundation Director, Prof. Bryan Turner, will not be based, other than for three months per year, at the centre since he is currently Alona Evans Distinguished Visiting Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College, Boston, at least until 2012.
Therefore, after careful consideration, although I will remain based in UWS, I have decided to ask the foundation Director of the centre, Prof. Turner and UWS to remove my name from the list of the scholars affiliated to the newly established Centre for Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies.
Hence, I wish to clarify that, at the present, I am not involved in any decision making or other administrative tasks for this Centre, or in its research plans. In particular, allow me to disperse some current voices that have designated me as the ‘community liaison officer’ responsible for ‘engagement’ with the Muslim communities, which is the main target of the research of this centre.
Although I am an anthropologist, and I have a very good relationship with many Muslim communities in various countries, it is not my task, as an academic, to assume such a role and I surely do not have (neither would I consider having) such a role as far as the new Centre for the Study of Muslim Societies – or for that matter NCEIS, UWS, or any other entity – is concerned.
Finally, let me stress and clarify beyond any doubt that, although I invited Prof. Turner to be a member of the editorial board of Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim life, and I also invited him to start a new book series with me, neither my journal, nor my blog, nor my editorship of the book series, or any other aspect of my work conducted so far are expressions of, or affiliated to, this centre and remain independent academic endeavors.
Nonetheless, I wish my friend, Prof. Bryan Turner, and all colleagues involved, all the best for this new centre and its future research.