Apparently on average an academic article is read by a dazzling total of 7-10 people (two of whom are your mother). To join this exclusive club, you can delve into my academic musings here. I like to write for different publics and experiment with genres. I also prefer to entertain the idea that my academic writing does not immediately instil a death wish in the reader. Academic writing is slow due to lengthy peer review and publication processes, but mine is perhaps particularly slow-mo because it builds on ethnographic fieldwork and subsequent analysis of observation, interviews, and field notes. If you decide to read the academic stuff I write, you will find (possibly to your great surprise) that I at times think full-fledged serious thoughts and put them into writing.
As co-founder and editor of Babylon: Nordic Journal of the Middle East and North Africa (2003-2008) and co-founder and editor in chief of the Religion: Going Public Blog, (2016-) I have had the pleasure of editing and improving manuscripts in various shapes and forms for more than 15 years. I also have brought two special issues to life: I served as guest editor for Cyber Orient on Constructing and Consuming Gender through Media (2016) and the Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture on religious controversies (2019), the latter, together with Helge Årsheim. To be more precise, I have edited and given manuscript feedback on: journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, blog posts, and skits. I love assisting writers in making their ideas shine.
For several years I was part of a team of researchers blogging about the ‘Arab spring’ as fast as we could, for the New Middle East Blog. We were pretty much blogging in real time, as events unfolded. It was intense, exhilarating, and fun. These blog posts spilled out of me, as a way of processing major events and all the conversations I had with ordinary people experiencing big political transitions, and who eyed hope of a better future. Blogging served as an outlet for the frenzy in the air. Next, I, together with a team of scholars founded the collaborative peer-reviewed blog Religion: Going Public. We shared a common vision, we wanted to create a blog that provided high quality posts based on research, but that were easy on the eye and reader-friendly enough to appeal to non-academics. Also, we care about the visuals. We are adamant about not wanting to shrink opaque academic articles into Mini-Me versions of themselves.
Writing for Laughs
Fake news has been on my radar for quite some time. As a child I used to create satirical news bulletins at parties for laughs. I went on to write a variety of skits that were either political, absurd, or both. I continue to share my social commentary through satirical texts and skits, some of which have been performed on stages. I even managed to write satirical scripts as part of my academic job, for the Laugh or Die: website, videos, and promo material. I have also written (and performed) sardonic academic talks. And, right now I am in the process of writing a humorous text about performing the academic self. I also have an exciting satirical short film script project in the making. This is in addition to the fact that I integrate humour into my academic articles and blog posts. I enjoy blurring the boundaries between comedic and serious output. If you are not digging this mix, you might be better off visiting some other random person’s website.
Poetry and Drama
I wrote my first full-length play when I was nine years old. But, Disney stole my idea. Weirdly, I loved writing from a very early age. I am particularly grateful to two of my teachers (one in the US, the other in Norway) for their enthusiastic feedback on my creative writing. Despite my love for all things funny, I acknowledge that life isn’t always laughable which is why I write poetry. I am not ashamed to say that my poems are not particularly funny. I hope to one day, publish a collection of poems or short stories, or to set up a full- length screen-play. In the mean time, I can always pretend that I have done all of the above. Image is everything.