AHKR, University of Bergen

Ph.D. Seminar in Middle Eastern Studies


  • Laura Adwan, "Narrating Homeland - A comparative study of two cases of refugees in Syria: Iraqi and Palestinian"

    Although refugees from both Palestine and Iraq ended up in Syria as a result of war and armed conflict, yet every individual refugee carries his/her life story. Far from being a straightforward condition of deprivation and uprootedness that is easily defined historically or ethnographically, refugeehood create contentious and complex constructions, encapsulating a wide range of historical moments and constantly evolving situations. Unpacking the challenges that refugees face and their responses - as this research project aims to do - is an attempt to better understand how recollections of past and life as lived intersect for those who are caught up in-between the emergence or perpetuation of wars, occupations and colonial conditions. The project investigates the possibilities of refugees finding a voice to express themselves, to contribute to their world and give social life to shattered environments.
  • Berit Angelskår

    Anthropology, 2010-2014
  • Kjersti G. Berg, "A Bed for the Night. United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), Refugee Camps, and the Re-Housing of Palestine Refugees 1949-2008"

    History/AHKR, 2004-2011
    This study documents the overall development of Palestinian refugee camps and refugee housing in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon after 1948 and until today. Through various UNRWA camp and housing schemes, Palestinian refugees have been moved and re-housed - both voluntarily and by force - and these processes have transformed the landscape of refugees and refugee camps. How and why this happened, and consequences of these schemes in a highly disputed landscape, is the main focus of this research. The thesis seeks to analyse the role of UNRWA, the host countries, the Palestinian refugees, and the politics of relief and humanitarianism coupled with local, regional, and international refugee politics visible in these processes.
  • Janne Bøe, "When providers can't provide"

    Anthropology, 2006-2011
    The project is an inquiry into the relationship between household economy and patriarchy in a Palestinian village in crisis conditions. The focus will be on the shifting role of women in the gender equation in times of stress. In many of these situations of stress the woman's economic activities, employment and household management, will be crucial for the material wellbeing of the family household. Her ability to act as a decision maker and bread winner will depend on her status in relation to the male adults in the household in which gender relations are defined by traditional patriarchy. The study will therefore address this question: How does traditional patriarchy affect women's ability to act in circumstances of traditional patriarchy in times of stress on the economy of the household?
  • Marianne Bøe, "Debating family law in contemporary Iran"

    Centre for Women and Gender Studies (SKOK) / Religion, 2008-2012.
    This project aims at studying the contemporary family law debate in Iran from the view of the Iranian women's movement. In the course of recent decades, both the debate on the family law and the women's movement have been influenced by political changes in the country, either in reformist or traditionalist directions. The project aims primarily at analyzing what impact these changes have had on the womens movement's contribution to the family law debate, in terms of agenda, strategies and arenas. In this way, the project takes a wider persepctive on an Islamic legal debate which is very important in contemporary Iran. The project is based on interviews and discussions with the actors of the women's movement, as well as studies of publications and activities.
  • Mona Farstad

    Religion/AHKR, 2007-2011
    (The Qur'anic representation of Mary)
  • Katja Jansen Fredriksen, "Sharia norms in Norwegian family law"

    Law, 2005-2010.
    This project aims at studying how Sharia norms are expressed in the family law domain in Norwegian courts. Many Muslims in Norway wish to relate to two parallell court systems; the Norwegian national law and the religious law. In some areas of law (divorce, polygamy, child care, inheritance) these systems may come into conflict. The project has the overall aim to study the possibilities and restrictions of Norwegian law in these areas, relating it to the principles of International Private Law and human rights, and what consequences this has for the expectations and security of Muslims in court. The project is based on family law decisions from the 1970s until today, in addition to interviews with those actors in court and others with special competence in these matters.
  • Eirik Hovden, "Water management in the Yemen related to waqf"

    History/AHKR, 2007-2011.
    This project concerns collecting and analyzing traditional written waqf documents (waqfiyyat) related to water supply and to the waqf system in Yemen. The aim is to read these documents with the involved actors to see how they construct the legitimacy of these institutions and management practices today. Much has changed in the Yemen, socially, culturally and in terms of technology in the last fifty years, and an important focus is also to see how these changes affect the contemporary conception of water-related waqfs.
  • Hilde G. Kjøstvedt, "Women in Islamic Civil Society Organisations: The Palestinian Case"

    Anthropology, 2009-2012
  • Renate Lunde, "Building Bonny Babies - missionary welfare work among poor women and children in Cairo 1900-1950"

    History/AHKR, 2004-2011
    In this project I discuss social and poverty history in Egypt, focussing on the welfare work established by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) for poor women and children at the beginning of the twentieth century. In addition to studying the donor side, the project also emphasizes the experience the recipients had with social aid in Egypt. The CMS was a pioneer in many fields, and is an interesting case as a point of departure for a study of discourses and practices on welfare, health and development nationally and internationally in the period.
  • Frode Løvlie, "Party Politics in Palestine: Hamas and the Politicization of Resistance"

    Chr. Michelsens Institute / Comparative Politics, 2010-2014
    The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, their institutionalisation as a political party and potential role in the further democratisation of Palestine.
  • Torbjørn Preus Schou, "Preclassical Palmyra in regional context"

    Archaeology, AHKR, 2009-2013
    The focus is on the role of Palmyrena in the economic circuits of the region in a long-term perspective. Starting in Bronze Age in the second half of the third millennium and continuing into the Iron Age in early first millennium, the dissertation will investigate how events and develoments in the regions surrounding Palmyrena affected communication and trade through the Syrian desert, and conversely which role Palmyrena played in the network of communication. Related to this aspect is the rise of Palmyra itself. How did its position in the network affect its function in the system in this early period? It will study these elements within a framework of world-systems theory, mainly on an archaeological empirical basis. (Attached to the Palmyrena Project).
  • Pål Steiner, "Egyptian burial rituals in the 18th Dynasty"

    Religion/AHKR, 2006-2009
  • John Erik Sætren, "Islamic discourse in new media: New forms of Islamic preaching"

    Arabic/IF, 2007-2010
    The project examines the discourse of two prominent Muslim preachers in contemporary Egypt, and charts the ways in which new media and commercialization have altered the production of religious discourse in an age of Islamic revival. On the ideological level, it sheds light on how the preacher as a mediator between permanent axioms of faith and changing social reality, makes the Quran and other Islamic texts relevant for people in everyday life. On the rhetorical level, it investigates the techniques and devices used by these preachers in dramatizing their ideological narratives. Thus, perspectives from sociology and sociolinguistics are combined to demonstrate how the production of Islamic discourse interacts with social change, providing an empirical based analysis of the dynamics inherent to the vaguely defined concept of islamization.
  • Liv Tønnessen, "The Moderation of Islamist Movements"

    Chr. Michelsens Institute / Comparative Politics, 2007-2011.
    The PhD will examine the impact of political inclusion on Islamist movements with a particular focus on the National Islamic Front (NIF) in Sudan. As movements with ideals for society at large the crucial issue in the moderation process, the PhD identifies as whether Islamists redefine and extend or restrict and limit political and civil rights of women and non-Muslims within a specific political context over time.

    Recent Ph.D. defences:

  • Bård Kårtveit, "In fifteen years there'll be none of us left! Attachments, resilience and migration among Bethlehem Christians." (Anthropology). 6 August 2010.
  • Ingvild Flaskerud, "Visualising Belief and Piety. Representation, Reception, and Function of Imagery in Iranian Shiism" (Religion). 12 December 2008.
  • Elena Vezzadini, "The 1924 Revolution; Hegemony, Resistence and Nationalism in the Colonial Sudan" (History). 13 June 2008.
  • Kjetil Fosshagen, "Island of conjuncture: state modalities and historical trajectories in Cyprus" (Anthropology). 6 June 2008.
  • Liv Ingeborg Lied, "The other lands of Israel: a study of the land theme in 2 Baruch" (Religion). 7 December 2007.


    Research Group in Middle Eastern and African Studies, AHKR
    Phone + 47 55 58 26 47, fax + 47 55 58 98 91, e-mail:
    Postal address: AHKR, University of Bergen. PO Box 7800 Bergen, Norway
    Visiting address: Øysteinsgt. 3, 5007 Bergen
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