1. Please describe your (scientific) work/research in a short way.
Dr. Yafa Shanneik is Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Birmingham. She researches the dynamics and trajectories of gender in Islam within the context of contemporary diasporic and transnational Muslim women’s spaces. Currently, she is working on a project, which explores women’s narratives of transnational marriage practices performed by Iraqi and Syrian women who have settled in Europe and other countries in the Middle East since the 1980s. The project focuses on the historical developments and contemporary understandings of family and gender relations. It particularly examines approaches of marriage practices among displaced Iraqi and Syrian Muslim women and foregrounds questions of identity, home and belonging of women constituted through local, national and transnational scales of migration experiences. She has published several articles on gender and Islam and migrant identities in Europe and their marriage practices such as: 'Displacement, humanitarian interventions and gender rights in the Middle East: syrian refugees in Jordan as a case study', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. ; Yafa Shanneik and Justin Jones (eds.), ‘Reformulating Matrimony: Islamic Marriage and Divorce in the Contemporary UK and Europe’. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (special issue), 40 (1).
2. Which aspect of a sustainable life, work and research is especially relevant for you and why?
The sustainability of knowledge is of particular importance to me. We need to find ways in which our research is preserved. My research for example focuses on the experiences of refugees who had to go through war and displacement and learn how to build a new life in a new place. The narratives of refugees need to be documented and articulated in various ways in order to inform the public, policy makers and humanitarian organisations but also in order to produce material and immaterial heritage for people who have lost everything and had to start from scratch.
3. What would be your wish for the future (and why) with this regard?
One Syrian woman who is currently living in Germany once told me: ‘There is no future without a past’. Life-narratives of people need to be documented for future generations to learn from. These narratives can be presented in various academic but also artistic ways such as through expressionist art, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
4. How is the Corona crisis affecting you in your every-day life and work?
There is no doubt that the Corona crisis is affecting us all in all aspects of our lives. However, the last one and a half year taught us to find alternative ways to communicate with each other, to conduct research in a different way and to present our research findings through various online spaces. Although we all miss face-to-face interactions, online spaces allowed us to communicate with one another in a different way and, in certain circumstances, brought us all a bit closer to each other.