Research


This is a general page about my research. There are several pages related to it, as follows:

From 2008-2015 I was a Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies and Religion at the University of Stirling. I previously taught Middle East history and politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, England; I have also been a guest lecturer in Middle Eastern history and politics at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Pavia, Italy.  My first degree was in Divinity (theology) at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland/University of Erlangen, Germany. I spent several years working mostly in the NGO and business sector in the UK and the Middle East, including a period as a lobbyist for the UK churches on Israel/Palestine, Iraq and Sudan, before returning to academia. My PhD was a social and political history of Scottish missionary activity in Palestine, and was completed at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies; I graduated in 2003. Most recently I have been working in the NGO and business sector, but have continued with my research.

Research

I am a social and political historian, whose main research interests centre on gender and European colonial engagement overseas, particularly in regard to missionary activity in the Middle East. I have published widely in this field, and I am currently working on two main projects.

The first, on transnationalism, picks up on some of the themes I first addressed in an essay published in 2013, and seeks to interrogate the writing of transnational history in a postcolonial setting, using a number of case studies.  I intend this book to be a contribution to a discourse that I feel is often far too uncritical about transnationalism.  I hope that this will appear in 2018 (and in the meantime, I expect there to maybe be a further publication from this – and almost certainly some blog postings).

The second project looks at the role of Scottish women who worked as missionaries in the Middle East in the period 1918-1948.  Many of these women worked in medicine or education, and were profoundly influenced by the cultures they encountered, as well as their home contexts. By 1900, 66% of Scottish missionaries were women, but relatively little has been written about them.  I am seeking to develop thematic questions and pick up on some of the questions raised by scholars such as Marjory Harper and Tom Devine in recent works.
This latter project has an additional element to it, in that I am seeking financial support for work with colleagues who will enable a more comparative approach to be taken, as they examine Scottish missionary women who worked in areas of the world other than the Middle East.

I initiated and for many years co-ran a scholarly network on Christians in the Middle East, and was a founder member and long-time editor of the Critical Religion Association.

Postgraduate Research

I have supervised a number of PhDs, and am interested particularly in the following areas: history of European colonialism, historical missions to/from/in the Middle East and elsewhere, Oriental churches, postcolonial studies, gender, theology/religion and politics.

In recent years, I have been involved in supervising a number of PhD students to completion:

  • Safaa Abdulrahim (Arab-American women writers);
  • Rajalakshmi Kannan (the history of Indian music, women performers and postcolonialism);
  • Inbal Livne (the history of Tibetan artefact collection in Scottish museums).

Current and prospective students are focussing on women in Palestine, and the history of the Church of Scotland and Zionism.

In the past…

I have spent a number of years working in Europe and the Middle East: with and in churches, charitable bodies, international NGOs, commercial enterprises and arts organisations, and have acquired a wide range of administrative, managerial, financial and other skills.

For some go of necessity astray, because for them there is no such thing as a right path. (Thomas Mann, 1875-1955; in ‘Tonio Kröger’)
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