Welcome to SOAS Politics

This is an independent site maintained by the academic staff of the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. We use it to showcase our research, writing and commentary, and to provide up-to-date information about our Department.


Islamutopia: A very short history of political Islam

Whenever contemporary Islamists ponder their own genealogy, there are two pivotal figures that invariably come up to invigorate their imaginings. These two reference points of contemporary political Islam are Sayyid Jamal al-din al-Afghani (or Asadabadi)(1838-1897) , and his disciple Mohammad Abduh (1849-1905). Afghani and Abduh lived through a tumultuous period for the ummah whose decline…

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Lana Asfour talks to Syrian refugees in Lebanon near the Syrian border. In the windswept hills of the northern Bekaa valley, the normally quiet town of Aarsal is experiencing an unusual amount of activity. It is one of the remote border villages in the Jabal Younine mountain range that are seeing an influx of Syrians…

A Collective Undertaking

The current ‘Hajj’ exhibition at the British Museum has been praised by Brian Sewell as ‘an exhibition of profound cultural importance’ and criticised by Mehdi Hasan as a ‘whitewash’. It is both, as it happens, though the former finally outweighs the latter. The whitewash accusation refers to the fact that there is no mention of…