Marketable Me

Whatever I do, I tend to think outside the box. Admittedly, sometimes I want to smash the box. My job experience is varied. I have held positions as a: multicultural communication & diversity counsellor, project manager, leader, researcher, and university lecturer to name a few. Storytelling has been an integral part of my career.  I am analytical, structured, creative, constructively critical, engaging, and collaborative. I scored a mere 97% on the extrovert scale, in a highly reliable personality test on Facebook.  Thanks to the way my brain works, I have a talent for: seeing the bigger picture, identifying patterns in complex matter, synthesizing & simplifying abstract ideas into accessible formats, and making humorous connections. I approach my work with a fair amount of enthusiasm, sociability (and animation). I am sucker for finding solutions to problems. It’s kind of my super power.

Diversity Training & Multicultural Counselling

With hands-on experience as a multicultural & diversity counsellor and many years of working with the resettlement of refugees, I have a praxis- near focus on managing diversity. I have successfully designed and led a series of government-funded projects that focus on managing cultural and religious diversity. I love teamwork and creating magic together. On occasion, I encourage my project teams to call me ‘Supreme Leader’, because it has such a friendly (not to mention democratic) ring to it.

Where am I really from?

Honestly, I was pretty international, even when fresh out of the womb. My Norwegian mother and Egyptian father met in Paris and had me in Cambridge. English is my first language. I spoke English and Arabic at home, and later learnt Norwegian. I moved between England, Kuwait, Egypt, Norway and the US, well in to my teens. My international upbringing and frequent re-location taught me a thing or two about cultural encounters, which ‘inspired’ me to delve into these themes as a grown up. Despite the multiple attempts at boxing me up into a singular identity, I maintain my right to slip between the cracks of either- or definitions of myself.  I did manage to sneak gold into my website design though, and that speaks volumes about who I (really) am.

Not So Random Topics of Interest

Ever since childhood, I have pondered about whether acquiring and producing knowledge has to be so unbearably boring, so here I am singing ‘let me entertain you’. I speak and write about many forms of everyday politics and connections between media, religion and culture, particularly in Middle Eastern & Nordic contexts. For instance: Online religion (negotiation of secular, atheist, Christian and Muslim identities); Gender (gender norms, sexuality, marital relations, legal rights); Islam (feminism, ijtihad, marriage, divorce, Islam Online, online counselling, Islamism, humanistic Islam), Diversity (migration, othering, cultural stereotypes, interactions, clash of worldviews); Religion and conflict (social media, politics of affect, identity politics, trigger themes); Popular culture (Egyptian cinema, musalsalat, melodrama, comedy, political satire).

Research Bonanza

Social Anthropology is my mother ship, even if I do have an interdisciplinary approach to the world. My work is ethnographic and I have a range of fieldworks (solo, collaborative, short, longitudinal, multi-sited, organizational & online) under my belt. I’ve also done survey development, commissioned, and applied research.  My academic training is in, Social Anthropology, Religious Studies, Middle East Area Studies, Multicultural & International Education, and more recently Media Studies. Obviously, this paragraph does full justice to everything I have ever researched, taught, and written. But seriously, my research speaks for itself. Read it. It’s very good (or ‘truly groundbreaking’ as academics like to say).

Research N’ Humour

Truthfully, there is one cultural stereotype I am willing to embrace wholeheartedly, namely, that Egyptians are funny. I have invariably taken painstaking measures to try to accurately translate humorous exchanges from fieldwork and qualitative interviews into my writing. Parts of my PhD methodology chapter are written in an ironic, self-deprecating tone, which I hear is an unusual choice. I even argue that humour is a research tool and discuss humour in the field.  I also claim that my sidesplittingly funny research participants would have been utterly lost on a researcher less comically inclined. More importantly, this would have led to missing out on very important research data. Also, I hate to imagine how boring that PhD would have been to read.

Working in The Academy

I designed and taught my first university course for Middle East Studies, at the University of Oslo in 2003. I returned to the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages in 2009 and was employed as a PhD Fellow, university lecturer, and the Coordinator of the Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies, for a few years. I also served on Selection Committees. I held a Post Doctoral research position at the Department of Media and Communication (2015-2019) and have been affiliated to C-REX: Center for Research on Extremism. In addition to research and teaching tasks at the media department, I designed and led the ambitious collaborative public scholarship project: New Public Outreach Strategies for Research on Religious Controversies, funded by The Research Council of Norway (2016-2017). Prior to returning to academia in January 2009, I worked in what bitter and disillusioned academics call ‘the real world.’

Services For Hire

If you desperately need to hire my services, I‘ll do my best to assist you for an exorbitant fee (or a decent amount of dough). Contact me for an offer you can refuse.

‘Nuff Said

This website is the result of me officially embracing the fact that my sense of humour and creativity are things that set me apart and shape the way I work and communicate. Hence, you will find that this is a somewhat unusual website for an academically trained (or indeed any form of) individual. Yet, I just used ‘hence’ in a pretty simple sentence and tried to pass that off as casual, so my splendid education has been worthwhile after all.

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Photo: Olaf Sunde Christensen