Beyond ‘Sectarianism’? Project

Our Research Associate, Dr Emanuelle Degli Esposti, is the current recipient of the British Academy Rising Stars Engagement Award for her project entitled “Beyond ‘Sectarianism?’”. The year-long project aims to bring together scholars working on issues of individual and group identity in order to work towards building a common conceptual and theoretical tool kit for the study of intra-communal antagonism, and centres around three key events:

  1. An interdisciplinary academic symposium – Woolf Institute, Cambridge on 24-25 October 2019
  2. An intra-faith discussion workshop, bringing together academics, policy makers, and community leaders from both Sunni and Shi’a faiths – Al-Mahdi Institute, Birmingham, 17 February 2020.
  3. A public film screening – The Frontline Club, London, 20 March 2020.


Project Overview

While Muslim communities in Britain are arguably under greater scrutiny than ever, there remains a dearth of understanding regarding issues of minority representation and diversity among Muslims from different branches of Islam. In the face of rising intra-communal antagonism, and against the backdrop of rising sectarian tension in the Middle East, there is a pressing need for more nuanced understandings of the Muslim community in the UK. Currently, no suitable conceptual language exists to explain forms of identity, conflict, and cooperation among British Muslims beyond simply reducing the specificity of their experience to the problematic concept of ’sectarianism’. This project seeks to establish such a language by bringing together academics, policymakers, and community members from both Sunni and Shi’a branches of Islam for a series of three engagement and outreach events. Together, these events will generate new discussions about the place and resonance of Islam and Muslim minorities in Britain.


For more information please contact Dr Degli Esposti at