Dr Sara Silvestri
T: +44 (0)20 7040 4562
Office hours: Term 1. Mon 3-4pm; Tue 2-3pm in D626
ExpertiseIslam and Muslim political mobilisation in Europe; Islamism; Religion, Politics, and Public Policy; Governance of Religious Pluralism, Faith-based movements and lobbies, Radicalisation, counter-terrorism; Migration, Integration, EU.
Research profileDr Sara Silvestri is an interdisciplinary social scientist fascinated by the role of faith in society and in international relations and its implications for the governance of an increasingly diverse Europe. Her research, teaching, and publications focus on Islam, political mobilisation, and transnational networks; the emergence of Muslim institutions and pressure groups in Europe; Political Islam; Muslim-government relations and European public policies towards religion; the nexus immigration-integration-social exclusion; the debate on 'radical' versus 'moderate' Islam.
She recently completed an ESRC-funded collaborative comparative research project on the impact of British counterterrorism upon Irish and Muslim communities, presented in Parliament on 7/7/2011. Her book 'Europe's Muslim women: beyond the burqa controversy', based on unprecedented empirical research in 5 countries, is forthcoming.
Dr Silvestri has been the recipient of numerous research grants (including ESRC, NORFACE, ESF), is a member of Euro-Islam.info and the Muslims in Britain Research Network. Since 2007 she jointly convenes the BISA working group on Religion, Security and International Relations. In June 2011 she co-convened a major ESF-sponsored international conference on religion, gender and multiculturalism held in Sweden.
Currently Senior Lecturer in International Politics, Dr Silvestri is in charge of specialist courses on Islamism, religion and politics, and the EU, and is head of the PhD programme. She also supervises a number of PhD students working on the Middle East, Islam, and religion in international politics.
She joined the department in September 2006, after completing her MPhil, PhD and ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, where she remains a research associate with POLIS & St Edmund's College. Her international and multi-disciplinary training includes a humanities degree at La Sapienza (Rome), and specialisations in church-state relations (as a Marie Curie Fellow in Paris) and in EU migration policies (at the ULB, Belgium). She has also held positions at the University of Bristol, London Metropolitan University, and the Cambridge Muslim College.
Dr Silvestri has directed the Islam in Europe programme at the European Policy Centre (Brussels) and has been a research consultant to the British Council, Ethnobarometer, the European Commission, and the British Government. Prior to that, she had worked in the Cabinet of the European Commission President and had been an Associate Fellow with Chatham House (London).
As an expert on Islam in Europe, religion, and intercultural relations, Sara serves in the advisory board of the British Council's 'Our Shared Future' programme, the ESRC 'Radicalisation Research' portal, and the EuroMediterranean Foundation Anna Lindh (for which she contributed to the first Gallup opinion poll of the EuroMediterranean region).
She is also a member of the scientific committee of GIERFI (a network for the study of Islam and women in Europe) and is a member of the UN Alliance of Civilizations' Global Experts group.
Select publications by topic
(All publications are single-authored unless otherwise specified)
Islamism, radicalisation and counter-terrorism
4. 'Irish, Muslims and British counter-terrorism: continuities and variations in discourses around security threats and "suspectness"', [by S.Silvestri, M.Hickman, L.Thomas, H.Nickels] under review (as of June 2011).
3. 'Constructing "Suspect" Communities and Britishness: Mapping British Press Coverage of Irish and Muslim Communities, 1974-2007', [by H.Nickels, L.Thomas, M.Hickman, and S.Silvestri] European Journal of Communication, forthcoming 27(2), June 2012.
2. 'Moderate Islamist groups in Europe: The Muslim Brothers', in K. Hroub, ed, Political Islam: Ideology and Practice, London: Saqi, 2010.
1. 'Radical Islam: Threats and Opportunities", Global Dialogue, 9(3-4), 2007, pp.118-126.
5. Europe's Muslim Women: Beyond the Burqa Controversy, Hurst Publishers, forthcoming.
4. 'Faith intersections and Muslim women in the European microcosm: Notes towards the study of non-organized Islam', Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(7), July 2011, pp.1230-1247.
3. 'Beyond the veil, beyond the victim: understanding Muslim women in Europe', in N.Touhami and M.Hamidi, eds. Islam et Genre à L'ère de la Globalisation, Brussels: GIERFI, forthcoming 2011 (in press)
2. 'Unveiled Issues: Reflections from a Comparative Study on Europe's Muslim Women', City University Working Paper no. 5, April 09.
1. Europe's Muslim Women: Potential, Problems and Aspirations, research report for and published by King Baudouin Foundation, Brussels, Nov. 2008.
EU policies towards Islam and European identity / Faith-based lobbying groups/ Religion & IR
4. 'Islam and Religion in the EU Political System', West European Politics, 32(6), Nov 2009, pp.1210-1239.
3. 'Asserting Islam in the EU: actors, strategies, and priorities', in F. Foret (ed) L'Europe à l'épreuve du religieux, Bruxelles: Presse de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2007.
2. 'Does Islam challenge European Identity?', in L. Faltin & M. Wright (eds) The Religious Roots of Contemporary European Identity, New York & London: T&T Clark/ Continuum, 2007.
1. 'Introduction' (with J.Bailey), Cambridge Review of International Affairs (Religion and International Relations thematic issue), 20(3), Sept. 2007, pp.359-360.
Islamic institutions, Muslim-government relations
6. 'Institutionalizing British and Italian Islam: Attitudes and Policies' in H. Yilmaz and C. Aykac (eds), Perceptions of Islam in Europe: Culture, Identity and the Muslim 'Other', London: I.B. Tauris, forthcoming 2011 (in press).
5. 'Public Policies towards Muslims and the Institutionalisation of 'moderate' Islam in Europe: some critical reflections', in A. Triandafyllidou, ed., Muslims in 21st century Europe, London: Routledge, 2010.
4. "Muslim Self-Organisation in Europe: Risks and Odds of State Intervention", in A. Kreienbrink and M. Bodenstein, eds, Muslim Organisations and the State - European Perspectives. Nürnberg: Bundesamt für Migrations und Flüchtlinge (German Ministry for Migration), 2010, pp.38-53. - an earlier version of this is available in S.Silvestri, 'Muslim institutions and political mobilisation', in A. Boubekeur, S. Amghar and M. Emerson (eds) European Islam: the challenges for society and public policy, Brussels/Budapest: CEPS/OSI, 2007.
3. 'Europe and Political Islam: encounters of the 20th and 21st century', in T. Abbas (ed) Islamic Political Radicalism: A European Comparative Perspective, Edinburgh University Press, 2007.
2. 'The Situation of Muslim Immigrants in Europe in the Twenty-first century: the creation of National Muslim Councils', in H. Henke (ed), Crossing Over: Comparing Recent Migration in Europe and the United States, Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2005.
1. 'The Institutionalization of Islam in Europe: a Case Study of Italy', Council for European Studies Newsletter, Sept. 05.
Multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue in Euro-Mediterranean relations
5. 'Behaviours, Interactions, and the Praxis of Dialogue', in Anna Lindh EuroMediterranean Foundation for Dialogue Between Cultures, EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010. The Anna Lindh Report, Alexandria: Anna Lindh Foundation, September 2010.
4. 'Inter-Cultural Dialogue to the Benefit of the Members of the Family and for and Integral Life', People on the Move, no. 107, Aug. 2008, pp.315-325.
3. 'Islam & the EU: The Risks & Merits of Inter-Cultural Dialogue', Policy Brief, European Policy Centre, Brussels, June 2007.
2. Intercultural Dialogue: Proof of Concept Testing, London: British Council internal document (with C.Alcock & S.Khan, internal document, restricted access), 2006.
1. 'EU relations with Islam in the context of the EMP's cultural dialogue', Mediterranean Politics, 10(3), Nov. 2005, pp.385-405.
International conferences and invited talks
Dr Silvestri has presented her work at major academic conferences (e.g. BISA, ISA, PSA, UACES, EUSA, WOCMES, METROPOLIS) and has been an invited speaker at a number of prestigious academic and policy-oriented institutions and expert meetings around the world, including: European Parliament, European Commission, Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Scholars, Canadian Federal Government, German Ministry of the Interior/ migration, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Migration Policy Institute, House of Commons (UK), WISE Muslim women world conference (Malaysia), Casa Asia and Casa Arabe (Spain), Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arab League, EPC and CEPS (Brussels), IAI, IPPR, The Women Forum, The Vatican, Caritas Internationalis, Georgetown Univ., CIPMO and FIERI (Turin), Milan Univ., Copenhagen Univ., Helsinki Univ., TAPRI, LSE, SOAS, UCL, Oxford Univ., Cambridge Univ., Birmingham Univ. Edinburgh Univ., Lancaster Univ., Sussex Univ, Bogazici Univ. & Marmara Univ. (Turkey), Johns Hopkins Univ., Kuwait Univ., Kingdom of Morocco.
Interviewed by: BBC Radio 4, BBC World, The Economist, Al Jazeera, Reuters, RAI International, La7, Forsking, Agencia Estado, CNS News, European Voice, Vatican Radio, Islam Online, Islam Channel TV, Catholic News Service, NBC, Voice of America, PBS Frontline, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Chinese Youth Radio, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, Russian media, Servizio Informazione Religiosa.
Authored contributions (on Islam, EU affairs, interfaith, multiculturalism) for: SIR, St Paul's media, the Guardian.
Select media appearances/contributions
- Multiple media outlets around the world reprinted op-ed 'Cutting the fog: Multiculturalism, religion and the common good', during May & June 2011.
- BBC Radio4, Sunday programme, 2 Jan. 2011, '10 years after 9/11'
- Open Democracy, 15 July 2010, Burqa Laws, women's lives
- The Guardian. 13 July 2010. France votes on the burqa
- The Islam Channel. 5 July 2010. Panel debate on the fifth anniversary of 7/7.
- BBC Radio 4, Sunday Programme. 6 Dec. 09. Interviewed about the minarets.
- EuropeanVoice.com. 13 Feb 09. Interviewed about studying Islam in Europe.
Teaching in 2011-12IPM010 - Political Islam
IP2017 - Religion in Global Politics
IP2018 - Political Change in Europe
IP3001 - Dissertation workshop
IP….. - New Diplomacy and public policy course - convenor