MEET THE TEAM

Seyed Ali Alavi is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. He holds a PhD in Politics from SOAS. Ali’s single authored book “Iran and Palestine, Past, Present, Future” was published by Routledge in 2019. Ali also writes and comments about contemporary politics of the Middle East and Europe and he has appeared in a number of interviews by Euronews, Al-Jazeera English, RT, LBC Radio, Radio Four and other outlets.

Nina Arif is a freelance journalist who completed her MSc in International Politics at SOAS University in 2019. She has written for the international journal Critical Hermeneutics on How the British Media Dehumanises Migrants in the Context of the Syrian Civil War. Nina has produced work for various media outlets including the BBC, Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye. She also produced video features for BBC Arabic while living and working in the Middle East for eight years.

Nina Arif, MA

Research Assistant

Alison is Professor of Society and Belief and Associate Director of Research (Impact and Engagement) at SOAS, University of London. In 2019 she and her research team completed a three year AHRC grant to analyse representations of Islam and Muslims on university campuses (2015-18). Data from this research show clearly the damaging effects of Prevent, the counter security policy. This complements her work on free speech on campus and pathways to securitisation. In early 2019 she was commissioned by the government to work with Muslim community groups and improve young Muslims’ access into higher education (UMSEP).

She speaks on BBC Radio 4, 5live, Times Radio and Radio Wales and writes for the Guardian and several higher education blogs. Alison applies modern philosophy (Ricoeurian) to social justice issues. She gave evidence in 2017 to the Joint Committee on Human Rights about free speech on campus and in 2019 she was invited to No. 10 Downing Street to brief advisors on her AHRC team’s research findings. She is also conducting a deep mapping of curricula and extracurricular provision for Jewish and Israeli studies in the Bloomsbury universities, to establish excellence, gaps and room for improvement.

Katie O’Reilly-Boyles has just completed the Ambitious Futures Graduate scheme, which began in  September 2019. As part of this, she has been working across Communications and Public Affairs, Access and Participation, Planning and is currently situated in Knowledge Exchange, which is where she will continue in her role going forward. She currently works on various projects as well as iCoP including Research Communications, Public Engagement (including events and SOAS Radio) along with Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise activity.

She is a SOAS alumna from 2014 and is currently undertaking a part-time Masters at the Institute of Education. She also sits on the Board of Governors for a school in the Eko Trust.

Knowledge Exchange and Impact Officer

Sanjana Deen

Researcher

Sanjana Deen is a vocational tutor and freelance journalist, informed by her work with charity and government projects in the Middle East, Bangladesh and the UK. She has produced work for the BBC Asian Network and other media organisations on social and political issues in British society and beyond. She is also a trustee of Kijana Kwanza (Young People First), a charity working with youth in Tanzania. Sanjana studied Economics and History at SOAS. 

Khadijah Elshayyal is an Associate Fellow at the Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh specialising in contemporary British Muslim history, a researcher at the Influencing Corridors of Power (ICOP) project at SOAS and is currently General Secretary of the Muslims in Britain Research Network (MBRN). Her research interests lie in the political and cultural activism, advocacy and representation of Muslims and other minorities in the UK. Her publications include Muslim Identity Politics: Islam, activism and equality in Britain (IB Tauris, 2020) and Scottish Muslims in Numbers: understanding Scotland’s Muslims through the 2011 Census (University of Edinburgh, 2016).

Dr Khadijah Elshayyal

Researcher

Professor Emeritus John Holmwood

Advisor

John Holmwood is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Nottingham and senior researcher in the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Science. He was formerly president of the British Sociological Association (2012-2014) and member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2014-15). He is the author (with Therese O’Toole) of Countering Extremism in British Schools? The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair (Policy Press 2018) and (with Gurminder K. Bhambra) of Colonialism and Modern Social Theory (Polity 2021). Personal website

Lottie helps out across all areas of ICOP. Previously, she studied Theology at both Bristol University and Oxford, where she focused on Brexit, class and identity politics. Alongside her role at ICOP, she works for a policy institute focusing on UK health and gender inequality.

Research Assistant

Research Assistant

Rana is a PhD researcher in the SOAS School of Law focusing on the legal conception of political justice in socio-political ruptures triggered by popular uprisings in Africa & the Middle East region. Her research interests include law and social movements, political accountability and transparency, comparative politics.

Hasan Pandor is a current SOAS MA student, with considerable teaching, editing and team-working expertise, including as a SOAS research assistant on an MHCLG-funded research project.

Research Assistant

Professor David Renton

Professor of Practice in ICOP and Law

David joined SOAS as a Professor of Practice in 2021. He is also a historian and a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, where he has represented clients in some of the leading employment and housing cases of the past decade.

David has represented blacklisted construction workers, teachers calling for Covid lockdowns, and supporters of the Occupy Movement in courts including the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights. His cases have been at the cutting edge of trade union law, anti-union discrimination, and the protection of free speech.

Before he joined SOAS, he was previously a Visiting Professor in Sociology at Johannesburg University and for several years a national (Equality) official of the University and Colleges Union. David is the author of more than twenty books of history, social and legal theory, which have been translated into a dozen different languages. His work addresses: the history of anti-racism and anti-fascism; the definitions of populism, authoritarianism and fascism; the impact of Covid on housing and employment law; whether and when it is appropriate to restrict freedom of expression; and how liberation movements can prevent discrimination from re-emerging within their own ranks.

He is now working on a project which addresses why the law has come to absorb areas of political controversy, how projects to roll back the expansion of the law can end up entrenching class and social power and whether social movements should work with or against the law. He also writes regularly for the Guardian and London Review of Books.

He regularly writes on his blog and tweets at @livesrunning and @dkrenton.

Seyed Ali Alavi is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. He holds a PhD in Politics from SOAS. Ali’s single authored book “Iran and Palestine, Past, Present, Future” was published by Routledge in 2019. Ali also writes and comments about contemporary politics of the Middle East and Europe and he has appeared in a number of interviews by Euronews, Al-Jazeera English, RT, LBC Radio, Radio Four and other outlets.

Nina Arif, MA

Research Assistant

Nina Arif is a freelance journalist who completed her MSc in International Politics at SOAS University in 2019. She has written for the international journal Critical Hermeneutics on How the British Media Dehumanises Migrants in the Context of the Syrian Civil War. Nina has produced work for various media outlets including the BBC, Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye. She also produced video features for BBC Arabic while living and working in the Middle East for eight years.

Alison is Professor of Society and Belief and Associate Director of Research (Impact and Engagement) at SOAS, University of London. In 2019 she and her research team completed a three year AHRC grant to analyse representations of Islam and Muslims on university campuses (2015-18). Data from this research show clearly the damaging effects of Prevent, the counter security policy. This complements her work on free speech on campus and pathways to securitisation. In early 2019 she was commissioned by the government to work with Muslim community groups and improve young Muslims’ access into higher education (UMSEP).

She speaks on BBC Radio 4, 5live, Times Radio and Radio Wales and writes for the Guardian and several higher education blogs. Alison applies modern philosophy (Ricoeurian) to social justice issues. She gave evidence in 2017 to the Joint Committee on Human Rights about free speech on campus and in 2019 she was invited to No. 10 Downing Street to brief advisors on her AHRC team’s research findings. She is also conducting a deep mapping of curricula and extracurricular provision for Jewish and Israeli studies in the Bloomsbury universities, to establish excellence, gaps and room for improvement.

Knowledge Exchange and Impact Officer

Katie O’Reilly-Boyles has just completed the Ambitious Futures Graduate scheme, which began in  September 2019. As part of this, she has been working across Communications and Public Affairs, Access and Participation, Planning and is currently situated in Knowledge Exchange, which is where she will continue in her role going forward. She currently works on various projects as well as iCoP including Research Communications, Public Engagement (including events and SOAS Radio) along with Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise activity.

She is a SOAS alumna from 2014 and is currently undertaking a part-time Masters at the Institute of Education. She also sits on the Board of Governors for a school in the Eko Trust.

Sanjana Deen

Researcher

Sanjana Deen is a vocational tutor and freelance journalist, informed by her work with charity and government projects in the Middle East, Bangladesh and the UK. She has produced work for the BBC Asian Network and other media organisations on social and political issues in British society and beyond. She is also a trustee of Kijana Kwanza (Young People First), a charity working with youth in Tanzania. Sanjana studied Economics and History at SOAS. 

Khadijah Elshayyal is an Associate Fellow at the Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh specialising in contemporary British Muslim history, a researcher at the Influencing Corridors of Power (ICOP) project at SOAS and is currently General Secretary of the Muslims in Britain Research Network (MBRN). Her research interests lie in the political and cultural activism, advocacy and representation of Muslims and other minorities in the UK. Her publications include Muslim Identity Politics: Islam, activism and equality in Britain (IB Tauris, 2020) and Scottish Muslims in Numbers: understanding Scotland’s Muslims through the 2011 Census (University of Edinburgh, 2016).

Professor Emeritus John Holmwood

Advisor

John Holmwood is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Nottingham and senior researcher in the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Science. He was formerly president of the British Sociological Association (2012-2014) and member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2014-15). He is the author (with Therese O’Toole) of Countering Extremism in British Schools? The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair (Policy Press 2018) and (with Gurminder K. Bhambra) of Colonialism and Modern Social Theory (Polity 2021). Personal website

Research Assistant

Lottie helps out across all areas of ICOP. Previously, she studied Theology at both Bristol University and Oxford, where she focused on Brexit, class and identity politics. Alongside her role at ICOP, she works for a policy institute focusing on UK health and gender inequality.

Research Assistant

Rana is a PhD researcher in the SOAS School of Law focusing on the legal conception of political justice in socio-political ruptures triggered by popular uprisings in Africa & the Middle East region. Her research interests include law and social movements, political accountability and transparency, comparative politics.

Research Assistant

Hasan Pandor is a current SOAS MA student, with considerable teaching, editing and team-working expertise, including as a SOAS research assistant on an MHCLG-funded research project.

Professor David Renton

Professor of Practice in ICOP and Law

David joined SOAS as a Professor of Practice in 2021. He is also a historian and a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, where he has represented clients in some of the leading employment and housing cases of the past decade.

David has represented blacklisted construction workers, teachers calling for Covid lockdowns, and supporters of the Occupy Movement in courts including the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights. His cases have been at the cutting edge of trade union law, anti-union discrimination, and the protection of free speech.

Before he joined SOAS, he was previously a Visiting Professor in Sociology at Johannesburg University and for several years a national (Equality) official of the University and Colleges Union. David is the author of more than twenty books of history, social and legal theory, which have been translated into a dozen different languages. His work addresses: the history of anti-racism and anti-fascism; the definitions of populism, authoritarianism and fascism; the impact of Covid on housing and employment law; whether and when it is appropriate to restrict freedom of expression; and how liberation movements can prevent discrimination from re-emerging within their own ranks.

He is now working on a project which addresses why the law has come to absorb areas of political controversy, how projects to roll back the expansion of the law can end up entrenching class and social power and whether social movements should work with or against the law. He also writes regularly for the Guardian and London Review of Books.

He regularly writes on his blog and tweets at @livesrunning and @dkrenton.