Since I enrolled in my PhD in June 2015, the Centre has been providing a stimulating and inspiring research environment as well as a supportive community, with many opportunities to explore ideas, broaden my horizons, develop new skills and establish meaningful connections with other students and academics.
I chose to come to CAIS because of the excellent support and supervision I received when writing my Honours thesis here. I was completing an undergraduate degree in Development Studies at ANU, which allowed me to specialize in the Middle East. Coming from an interdisciplinary background, I thoroughly enjoyed all the courses and seminars I took at CAIS, as I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of the region and its socio-political landscape. Having lived in Syria prior to coming to ANU, I especially appreciated that I could directly interact with scholars who are experts in their field and learn from their first-hand knowledge and insights.
Influenced by my personal experiences of traveling and living in the Middle East as well as in other parts of the world, I am passionate about acquiring the kind of knowledge that can build bridges between different cultures and regions. Especially in our post 9/11 era, marked by ongoing terrorist threats and Western military involvement, it is easy to just view the Middle East in terms of ongoing instability, religious extremism, underdevelopment and undemocratic rule. For this reason, I feel it is very important to properly understand the historical factors and various intellectual currents that give rise to political action, particularly in a region as contested and volatile as the Middle East.
My research therefore explores the ideology and appeal of radical Islamist movements, and how these are seeking to challenge the dominance of liberal modernity.