PhD projects

Click on the names of the PhD students to read more about their respective publications, etc. on their personal pages.  

Sarah Louise Madsen
This research project sets out to ethnographically explore encounters between asylum seekers and the Danish Health Care system, aiming at understanding how these encounters contribute to the construction and/or deconstruction of an asylum-seeking person’s “refugeehood” – both as a legal status in the eye of the State, and as an identity / sense of self and one’s place in the world. This research project sets out to ethnographically explore encounters between asylum seekers and the Danish Health Care system, aiming at understanding how these encounters contribute to the construction and/or deconstruction of an asylum-seeking person’s “refugeehood” – both as a legal status in the eye of the State, and as an identity / sense of self and one’s place in the world.
The process of bureaucratically evolving from “asylum seeker” into a proper, recognised “refugee” in the eye of the State, is a path that requires the individual to embody victimhood, suffering, and need for protection. If, for instance, an asylum seeker cannot present written documentation of persecution, the receiving State may look for other corroboration of the asylum seeker’s narrative of victimhood, such as scars on the body. Medical screenings for signs of torture, trauma and PTSD – manifestations of persecution in the refugee’s body and mind – can be crucial to the outcome of an asylum application. Becoming a refugee, in a sense, is thus intimately linked to also being a patient, being “diagnosed” as a victim.
This has a number of implications that are worth exploring. While medical screenings of the asylum seeker’s body and mind may serve as important documentation of the validity of their claims, the results may also be invoked by the State as evidence against them. What happens when no physical evidence of torture is to be found on the asylum seeker’s body? Or if the asylum seeker appears too “young and healthy” to “truly” warrant protection? Or when the examination of a young asylum seeker’s body’s development is used not only to determine their likely age, but also their overall credibility?
Medical practices in relation to asylum seekers thus take on a two-fold purpose: on the one hand, to provide health care and treatment; on the other hand, to determine the applicant’s credibility. How does this shape asylum seekers’ use of and interaction with the health care system?

Ahmed Abou El Zalaf
Projektets sigte er at afdække Det Muslimske Broderskabs udvikling i perioden 1954-70. Det Muslimske Broderskab blev i perioden 1954-1970, efter et attentatforsøg på Jamal ’Abd al-Nasser, undertrykt og forfulgt, og følgelig forsvandt bevægelsen fra den offentlige politiske scene. Som følge af denne udvikling, forekommer der i den eksisterende forskning en anskuelse af, at Det Muslimske Broderskab mere eller mindre forsvandt fra den politiske dagsorden i Egypten. Dette projekt dykker ned i Broderskabets erindringer og interne kilder for at kortlægge en vigtig periode i Egyptens og Broderskabets historie.

Nærværende projekt vil derfor undersøge, hvordan Det Muslimske Broderskabs eksistens tog form i denne periode. Projektet vil dertil afdække den islamiske ideologi som Broderskabet italesatte i denne periode, og undersøge hvorfor Broderskabets islamiske doktrin kunne fortsætte som en alternativ og appellerende strømning, på trods af Nassers hårdhændede forfølgelse.

Sofie Pedersen

Being a "Good Muslim" in Denmark: Subjectivity Formation among Young Mulims in Denmark

This project explores how the prescriptive norms and ideals of the Danish welfare state impact the individual subjectivity construction of young Muslims living in Denmark. As an age group, young Muslims are often treated as a rather isolated category of “youth” – focusing primarily on the “hypervisible Islam” such as Islamic clothing, Islamic organisations and Islamic radicalisation. Consequently, aspects of their identity other than their “Muslimness” are likely to be neglected. However, the construction of Muslim subjectivities does not rely on religion alone. In an attempt to change this perspective, this project will investigate the subjectivity formation of young Muslim (students) in Denmark with a focus on the interlacement of individual strategies with templates of being a “good citizen” given by the context of the Danish welfare state.

The project investigates prescriptive forms of being a “good Danish Muslim” by the state and how this state-induced image is influencing the Muslim minority youth. In this way, the study puts is focus on the disciplinary governmentality of the Danish welfare state in Muslim subjectivity formation. In analyzing social practices and patterns of self-understanding in the context of Danish state governmentality, the project will explore young Muslims’ norms and ideals, with their dilemmas, anxieties and aspirations concerning fields of subjectivity formation such as education, work, civic engagement, and family life.

Gry Hvass Pedersen

Visions of Higher Education and Modern Muslim Selfhoods at Islamic Universities in Asia

This subproject explores the interlacement of global models and local interpretations of higher education at Islamic universities in Asia and the role of religion/Islam at these institutions. Furthermore, the project investigates the modern subjectivity formation of the students as well as it analyzes the role of the universities in these constructions. The project draws on theories of globalization, higher education as a world system and poststructuralist approaches to modern subjectivity formation. In empirical terms it will mainly be based on field work at Islamic universities in India, and a brief comparative analysis of the system of dual education at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

Line Mex-Jørgensen

The Egyptian Revolution and the Formation of Modern Subjectivities in Everyday Life

This project is an inquiry into the construction of modern subjectivities, emerging from the Arab Revolutions in 2011, in particular in relation to the Egyptian Revolution. Instead of putting its focus on the revolution as a transformation of a political system, this project addresses the revolution as an event for the emergence of new social imaginaries in the everyday life of Egyptians. Theoretically speaking, the project takes its point of departure in elements of theories of modernity, subjectivity and ordinary life. In this way, the project aims at showing, on an individual and everyday life level, which notions of the good life and of good society have been associated with these revolutionary events and their aftermath. The project draws on various primary sources in Arabic related to the revolution, thus making so far unused Arabic sources available for a non-Arabic speaking audience.

Claudia Læssøe Pedersen

The Political and Military Challenges of Urban Warfare in the Israeli-Arab conflicts 1982-2014

Predictions indicate, that in 2050 about 75 % of the world’s population will be living in cities. The growth of cities, and not least megacities, in both number and area, strongly imply that the urban environment will be a future battlefield and that Danish armed forces will be part of military operations in such a complex scene with its density of noncombatants and manmade constructions. Fighting in cities is nothing new, and neither is the reluctance toward doing so. But when urban warfare has been unavoidable, different strategies have been applied throughout history such as sieges, total destruction, WWII bombings of entire cities, and house to house combat with complete disregard of civilian casualties. Gradually, however, humanitarian sentiment, human rights codification, international law, and media attention have rendered these strategies non-viable for Western democracies. It is still not always up to the Western powers to decide to avoid wars in cities. Insurgents have discovered the advantage of withdrawing to cities, in order to mitigate the Western powers’ conventional forces' technological supremacy.

The aim of the project is to analyze the particular conditions and challenges of urban warfare on the political- strategic/operational level. To conduct this, the extensive experience of the Israeli-Arab conflicts from 1982-2014 will be analyzed, and in particular issues concerning the civilian population and the laws of armed conflict in the urban environment.

Previous PhD Projects

at Centre for Contemporary Middle East Studies

Previous PhD Projects