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portrait of Dr Sara Silvestri

Dr Sara Silvestri

Senior Lecturer in International Politics

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of International Politics

Contact Information


Visit Sara Silvestri

D506, Rhind Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



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.

Policy work

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.

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.

Other professional activities

- Co-convenor, BISA working group on Religion, Security and International Relations
- Treasurer, ISA section on Religion and International Relations
- Editorial board member, British Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
- United Nations Alliance of Civilisation: member of “global experts” group
- Scientific Advisor, Anna Lindh Foundation’s report of intercultural trends
- Advisory Board member, British Council project Our Shared Future
- Advisory Board member, Radicalisation Research


  1. PhD (International Studies), University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Jan 2002 – Jul 2006
  2. MPhil, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Oct 2000 – Oct 2001
  3. Laurea (Arts: Modern Languages and History), Università degli Studi di Roma Unitelma Sapienza, Rome, Italy, Nov – Mar 1999


  1. Director of UnderGraduate Programme & Senior Lecturer, City, University of London, Jan 2017 – present
  2. Deputy Head of Department, City, University of London, Aug – Dec 2016
  3. Senior Tutor for Research & Member of Research & Ethics Committee, City University London, London, Oct 2009 – Dec 2014
  4. ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Jan 2006 – Aug 2017
  5. Research Fellow, London Metropolitan University, Jul – Dec 2005
  6. Visiting Lecturer convening MA module on Political Islam, University of Bristol, Bristol, Jan 2005 – Jun 2006


English (can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review), French (can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review), German (can read and understand spoken), Italian (can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review) and Spanish; Castilian (can read and understand spoken).


Research Summary

Dr 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 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 multiculturalismheld in Sweden.


Islam 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.

PhD supervision

Strong and motivated candidates with a developed proposal are welcome in Dr Silvestri's areas of expertise (Islam, religion, migration, terrorism, EU). She is also available to supervise Middle East related projects in conjunction colleagues specialising in the region. Potential candidates must make sure that they fulfil all the requirements in our PhD guidance pages before making speculative inquiries and applications.


  1. Silvestri, S. (2016). Misperceptions of the 'Muslim Diaspora'. Current History, 115(784), pp. 319–321.
  2. Silvestri, S., Hill, C. and Cetin, E. (2016). Migration and the challenges of Italian multiculturalism. Italian Politics, 31(1), pp. 226–242. doi:10.3167/ip.2016.310114.
  3. Mandaville, P. and silvestri, S. (2015). Integrating religious engagement into diplomacy: challenges and opportunities. Brookings, 67.
  4. Hickman, M.J., Thomas, L., Nickels, H.C. and Silvestri, S. (2012). Social cohesion and the notion of 'suspect communities': A study of the experiences and impacts of being 'suspect' for Irish communities and Muslim communities in Britain. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 5(1), pp. 89–106. doi:10.1080/17539153.2012.659915.
  5. Silvestri, S. (2011). Faith intersections and Muslim women in the European microcosm: Notes towards the study of non-organized Islam. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(7), pp. 1230–1247. doi:10.1080/01419870.2011.565779.
  6. Silvestri, S. (2009). Islam and Religion in the EU Political System. WEST EUROPEAN POLITICS, 32(6), pp. 1212–1239. doi:10.1080/01402380903230678.
  7. Silvestri, S. and Mayall, J. (2015). The Role of Religion in Conflict and Peacebuilding. London: British Academy. ISBN 978-0-85672-618-7.
  8. Silvestri, S. (2008). Europe's Muslim Women: Potential, Aspirations and Challenges. Brussels: King Baudouin Foundation. ISBN 978-90-5130-633-0.

Chapters (8)

  1. Silvestri, S., Hill, C. and Cetin, E. (2016). Migration and the challenges of Italian multiculturalism. In Carbone, M. and Piattoni, S. (Eds.), Politica in Italia/ Italian Politics yearbook Berghahn Books.
  2. Silvestri, S. (2012). Institutionalizing British and Italian Islam: Attitudes and Policies. In Yilmaz, H. and Aykaç, Ç.E. (Eds.), Perceptions of Islam in Europe Tauris Academic Studies. ISBN 978-1-84885-164-1.
  3. Silvestri, S. (2012). Comparing burqa debates in Europe: sartorial styles, religious prescriptions and political ideologies. In Ferrari, S. and Pastorelli, S. (Eds.), Religion in Public Spaces Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. ISBN 978-1-4094-5058-0.
  4. Silvestri, S. (2010). Public Policies towards Muslims and the Institutionalisation of "Moderate Islam" in Europe: some critical reflections. In Triandafyllidou, A. (Ed.), Muslims in 21st century Europe Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-49709-1.
  5. Silvestri, S. (2010). Moderate Islamist groups in Europe: The Muslim Brothers. In Hroub, K. (Ed.), Political Islam: Context versus Ideology London: Al Saqi. ISBN 978-0-86356-659-2.
  6. Silvestri, S. (2007). Muslim Institutions and Political Mobilisation. In Amghar, S., Boubekeur, A. and Emerson, M. (Eds.), European Islam: Challenges for Society and Public Policy Brussels: Ceps. ISBN 978-92-9079-710-4.
  7. Silvestri, S. (2007). Does Islam challenge European Identity? In Faltin, L. and Wright, M.J. (Eds.), The religious roots of contemporary European identity Continuum Intl Pub Group. ISBN 978-0-8264-9482-5.
  8. Silvestri, S. (2007). Europe and Political Islam: encounters of the 20th and 21st century. In Abbas, T. (Ed.), Islamic political radicalism Edinburgh Univ Pr. ISBN 978-0-7486-2528-4.

Journal articles (5)

  1. Nickels, H., Thomas, L., Hickman, M. and Silvestri, S. (2012). De/Constructing ‘Suspect’ Communities: A Critical Discourse Analysis of British Newspaper Coverage of Irish and Muslim Communities, 1974-2007. Journalism Studies, 13(3).
  2. Nickels, H., Thomas, L., Hickman, M. and Silvestri, S. (2012). Constructing ‘Suspect’ Communities and Britishness: Mapping British Press Coverage of Irish and Muslim Communities, 1974-2007. European Journal of Communication, 27(2).
  3. Silvestri, S. and Bailey, J. (2007). Introduction (to thematic issue on) Religion Politics and International Relations. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 20(3), pp. 359–360.
  4. Silvestri, S. (2007). Radical Islam: Threats and Opportunities. Global Dialogue, 9(3-4).
  5. Silvestri, S. (2005). EU relations with Islam in the context of the EMP’s cultural dialogue. Mediterranean Politics, 10(3).

Reports (3)

  1. Silvestri, S. (2014). Religion and Social Cohesion at the Heart of the Intercultural Debate. Anna Lindh Foundation.
  2. Hickman, M., Thomas, L., Silvestri, S. and Nickels, H. (2010). "Suspect Communities?" Counter-terrorism policy, the press, and the impact on Irish and Muslim communities in Britain. London: London Metropolitan University.
  3. Silvestri, S. (2010). Migrant integration through education in Spain. Brussels.

Working paper

  1. Silvestri, S. (2009). Unveiled Issues: Reflections from a Comparative Pilot Study on Europe's Muslim Women. London, UK: City, University of London.


IPM010 - Political Islam
IP2028 - Religion and Politics in an Age of Global Change
IPM111 - Dissertation Workshop - term 2 only

Other Activities

Events/conferences (4)

  1. University of Cambridge, speaker at conference Faith in Politics? Churchill College (2013).
    Description: presented ongoing research on faith in European Union
  2. Higher Education Academy/ Islamic Studies Network : speaker at expert seminar Social scientists examine Islam and the lives of Muslims. London (2012).
  4. Caritas Internationalis, The Female Face of Migration: guest speaker in panel on domestic workers. Saly, Senegal (2010).

Keynote lectures/speeches (11)

  1. Regent Park Mosque: panel speaker at “community question time" on Muslims in the Media. London (2013). event in collaboration with Westminster Council and Fulham Borough
  2. House of Lords: panel speaker in public discussion event Representation and Reality organised by Federation of Student Islamic Societies. Westminster, London (2013).
  3. LUISS University: guest panelist on Security in the Mediterranean. Rome, Italy (2013).
  4. NECE network & German Federal Government: guest panel speaker at conference "Participation Now! Citizenship Education and Democracy in Times of Change". Cordoba, Spain (2012).
  5. Hay Festival: speaker in panel discussion on “conflict in cities”. Hay-on-Wye, Wales (2012).
  6. Keynote speaker at conference Occident-Orient Research Network. University of Birmingham (2012).
  7. How can we use the lessons from Northern Ireland to inform our Prevent strategy? De Montfort University, Leicester (2011). speaker in working group session of Home Affairs Committee conference "The Roots of Violence Radicalisation"
  8. Meeting of the High Level Advisory Group for a Renewed Strategy of The Anna Lindh Foundation. European Commission, Brussels (2011). speaker in plenary, session 3
  9. Muslim women in Europe. Committee on Equal Oppoprtunities, Council of Europe, Strasbourg (2011). gave evidence to committee for their report on Muslim women in Europe
  10. Hounslow Muslim Women Conference: guest speaker. Hounslow, UK (2010).
  11. European Parliament, European Socialist Group : guest speaker at expert seminar The Challenge of Radicalization. Brussels, Belgium (2008).

Media appearances (22)

  1. BBC Radio4, "Sunday Programme". Live interview on burqa debate in Europe and UK
  2. Oltre Radio (Italian radio), interview on Syria. interview on Syria crisis with focus on Islamism and sectarian confrontation, available on
  3. The Conversation: author of piece ‘Will the burqa debate in Britain lead to a French-style ban?’ available on
  4. The Conversation: author of piece 'No point in knee-jerk burqa ban after suspect has bolted'. available at
  5. BBC London: Live interview on burqa court case.
  6. Večernji List (main Croatian newspaper), author of comment piece on Egypt. title of article: “Obje strane ponašaju se kao u doba Mubaraka” (Both sides act as the Mubarak era), p.13
  7. Channel News Asia, live interview on forthcoming papal election. Channel News Asia is a major Singapore-based English-speaking TV
  8. Voice of Russia, participant in discussion on Muslim radicalisation. broadcast 27 Feb 2013, available for download:
  9. BBC News (TV), commented live on Italian elections. broadcast at prime time 7.15pm
  10. La Stampa (Italian daily), interview in article by C.Gallo on Pope’s resignation,p.12. Full longer version of interview also available, in English & Italian, on La Stampa’s website,
  11. BBC Radio 4, Beyond Belief programme, Religion & Globalisation. guest speaker in a programme lasting 1h
  12. Washington Times: quoted in piece on Islamists in Egypt.
  13. Norway's Atrocity: The Mental Tunnel. authored comment piece in Open Democracy portal,
  14. Reuters - "Like Al Qaeda: Norway's killer aimed at publicity". quoted in this article by Reuters' Peter Apps,
  15. SIR EUROPE - Dal Sospetto al Rifiuto. interview on my collaborative research project on Irish, Muslims and Counter-terrorism in Britain,
  16. BBC Radio 4, Sunday Programme. interview on Islamism and revolution in Egypt
  17. BBC Radio4, Sunday Programme. interview on 10 years after 9/11
  18. NTN 24 (Colombian TV), live interview on Iran attacks on British embassy.
  19. London Biggest Conversation Radio (LBC), interview on London and multiculturalism.
  20. REFORMA - Ponen en la mira el velo islamico. quoted in Mexican paper article on Islamic veil
  21. ISLAM CHANNEL, Politics & Media programme. guest speaker in programme lasting approx 1h
  22. RAI Radio1 (main Italian national radio), interview on multiculturalism, in programme “Tra cielo e. broadcast 11.29am, available :

Radio programmes (2)

  1. news. BBC Radio Cambridgeshire I was guest interviewed on Islam and terrorism
  2. news. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) recorded on 14 dec 2015 not sure when it was broadcast


  1. - Co-convenor, BISA working group on Religion, Security and International Relations
    - Treasurer, ISA section on Religion and International Relations
    - Editorial board member, British Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
    - United Nations Alliance of Civilisation: member of “global experts” group
    - Scientific Advisor, Anna Lindh Foundation’s report of intercultural trends
    - Advisory Board member, British Council project Our Shared Future
    - Advisory Board member, Radicalisation Research.