Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Thomas Pierret

(Former employee or visitor)

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Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

I am interested in supervising dissertations on aspects of the following themes: - Syrian politics - Islamic movements - Sunni-Shia sectarianism - Religious authority in modern Islam (ulama, intellectuals, activists) - Politics of doctrinal controversies in modern Islam - Islamic charities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Social Science, Sciences Po Paris
The Syrian Ulama in the 20th-21st century.
Postgraduate Diploma, Institut Français du Proche-Orient
Year-long Arabic course
Master of Social Science, Sciences Po Paris
Al-Ahbash: the Globalisation and Radicalisation of a Lebanese Neo-Traditionalist Movement
Master of Arts, Université Libre de Bruxelles
US-Syrian Relations 1992-2002
Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Langue arabe
Master of Arts, Université de Liège
The Belgian Community in Egypt during the Second World War
Bachelor of Arts, Université de Liège

Professional Qualifications

Lecturer in Contemporary Islam, University of Edinburgh
Visiting Fellow, Zentrum for Moderner Orient, Berlin
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University


Thomas Pierret earned his Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences at Sciences Po Paris and the Catholic University of Louvain (2009), funded by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (Belgium).He received his License in Modern History from the University of Liège (2001), his MA in International Politics from the Free University of Brussels (2002), and his MA in Comparative Politics (Muslim world) from Sciences Po Paris (2003). He attended a year-long intensive advanced Arabic language course at the French Institute of Damascus (2003-4).

In 2010, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University, Department of Near Eastern Studies. In 2011, he was a visiting fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin.

His research interests include Middle Eastern politics, with a particular focus on Syria, and the politics of modern Islam: religious authorities (in particular the ulema), social and political activism, state religious policies, economic dimensions, education, media, sectarianism, transnationalism, ideology.


Visiting and Research Positions

Visiting Fellow, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, 2011.

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University, 2010.


Administrative Roles

Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW), 2014 to present.

Research students

As principal

- Harriet Fildes, A changing state and a growing society in the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi's Turkey: implications for domestic democratic consolidation and foreign policy behaviour (2013 to present).

- Ching-An Chang, The Transformation of the Syrian Business Community through the Revolution (2014 to present).

- Francesco Saverio Leopardi, History and Narrative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (2014 to present).

- Neil Russell (subject TBC).

- Benedict Robin (subject TBC). 

As co-supervisor

- Georgios Rigas, Relations of the Hamas movement vis-à-vis Mubarak's Egypt between 2006 and 2011 (2011 to present).

- Yahya Barry, Muslim Responses to European Far Right Confrontation (2013 to present).

- Alessandro Columbu, The short story of Zakariyya Tamir: an example of resistance literature? (2013 to present).

- Lovisa Berg, Creating a man, a mouse or a beast? Masculinity as created by Syrian female novelists through the 20th century (2013 to present).


Research Interests

- Islamic movements

- Muslim religious authorities

- Syrian politics (including the current conflict)

- Middle East politics


- Modern Islamic movements

- Islam in modern societies

- Ideology and political practice in the modern Middle East

- Advanced issues in the study of the Middle East 

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