Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor


    Accepting PhD Students

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    Personal profile

    Research Interests

    Muslim Women; British Islam; Islamic Feminisms; Digital Methodologies; Religion or Belief Diversity; ‘Non-religious’ beliefs in Britain


    Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor is Research Group Lead for Faith and Peaceful Relations at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK. She is Chair (2020-2023) of the Muslims in Britain Research Network (MBRN) and is editor of the Review of Social and Scientific Study of Religion.

    Her research emphasises collaborative methodologies that work with and for research participants. As a feminist sociologist of religion, she has a keen interest and appreciation of the power dynamics within knowledge production and the implications of the processes and systems of knowledge on society as a whole.

    Her portfolio of research critically interrogates how we ‘do’ knowledge while also giving voice to lesser-heard and harder-to-reach sections in society. Feminist, Pragmatist and Decolonising methodologies are central to her methods toolkit. Her research has been funded by the AHRC, ESRC, Leverhulme Trust, British Academy and a number of UK foundations and charities (total value c. £1,600,000). Her publications include Muslim Women in Britain: Demystifying the Muslimah (Routledge 2012), Religion or Belief, Discrimination and Equality: Britain in Global Contexts (Bloomsbury 2013), Islamic Education in Britain: New Pluralist Paradigms (Bloomsbury 2015), Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion (Bloomsbury 2015), Islam on Campus: Contested Identities and the Cultures of Higher Education (OUP 2020), a number of journal articles, book chapters and mass-media articles. 

    Her work has evolved through partnership with a number of civil society organisation including the Peace Train Foundation, Penny Appeal, Together in Action Trust (Coventry), Coventry Sacred Space, CoramBAAF and others. She welcomes every opportunity to ensure that her research is relevant to everyday lives.

    In her spare time she travels (when it was possible!) and writes poetry.

    Her major research projects include:

    1. PI: “Uncovering the History of Inter-religious Relations in Coventry”. AHRC Midlands4Cities award (2021-2023)
    2. PI: “Minorities on Campus: Discrimination, equality and politics of nationalism in Indian HE”. AHRC GCRF Research Network (2020-2022)
    3. Co-I: “Tackling religion-based hate crime on the multi-faith campus” led by Dr Kristin Aune. Office for Students project (2018-2020)
    4. PI: “Magna Carta 1215 to the present day: Charting the development of legal frameworks around Freedom of Religion or Belief in UK”. Baroness Berridge Foundation, (2018)
    5. PI: “Amongst the last to leave: Understanding the Journeys of Muslim Children in the Care System in the Midlands”. DFE funded research project (2016-2018)
    6. PI: “Muslim Women in Britain c. 1890 to 1948: Historical Grounding for Modern Debates”. British Academy and Leverhulme Trust funded small grant (2016-2018)
    7. RF: “Re/presenting Islam on campus: gender, radicalisation and interreligious understanding in British higher education” led by Professor Alison Scott-Baumann. AHRC Standard Research Grant (2016-2018)
    8. PI: “Collaborative partnerships between universities and Muslim institutions: dismantling the roadblocks”.  ESRC funded ‘Follow-on’ Project (2012-2013)
    9. PI: “Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion”.  ESRC Digital Social research (DSR) Award and University of Derby match funding (2012-2013)
    10. RA: “Religion & Belief, Discrimination & Equality in England and Wales: Theory, Policy and Practice (2000 - 2010)” led by Professor Paul Weller.  AHRC/ESRC ‘Religion and Society’ Programme Large Grant (2010-2013)
    11. RA: “Review of Muslim Faith Leader Training in Britain” led by Professor Alison Scott-Baumann. Department of Communities and Local Government Review Project (2008-2010)

    PhD Students

    She is inspired by the scholarship that her doctoral students produce and welcomes expressions of interest from potential future students:

    1. Ola Alkhanout who is researching lived experiences of zakat in Contemporary Qatar
    2. Jennifer Verson who is exploring how performance may be used for inter-faith peace-building
    3. Meryem Abdelhafid who is studying the lived experiences of Algerian women in Britain
    4. Hafza Iqbal who is looking into lived experiences of Sufism in Britain
    5. Samra Mursaleen who is critically examining the impact in Britain of Pakistani Muslim Scholar Dr Tahir Ul Qadri's scholarship
    6. Eko Bur Cahyo who is interrogating management and good governance of waqf in the context of Islamic Education in Indonesia
    7. Suzanne Vernon-Yorke who is interrogating women’s inclusion and exclusion within organised inter-religious dialogue
    8. Imam Pamungas who is questioning how Islamic Education can challenge radical narratives of Islam

    Areas of Expertise: Islam in Britain, Islamic Feminism, Muslim women, Muslim movements, Sufism, Lived Religion, Digital Methodologies and Inter-faith Relations in Britain


    Vision Statement

    I am inspired by the everyday lives, experiences and conversations of people. In our society, popular metanarratives around immigration, radicalisation and austerity seem to suggest that our communities are ‘broken’. Yet in examining the everyday, it seems that ordinary people are contributing much more to the resilience of British communities than media narratives would have us believe – they are not just fostering tolerance of the different other, but are establishing relationships of respect, trust and equality. As a sociologist specialising in the study of lived religion, I believe it is imperative to examine the issues and problems that underpin the disconnections within our societies. But I believe it is probably even more important to uncover what communities and individuals are already doing to find shared space, common values and practical solutions. At CTPSR, I hope to be able to do this - to find solutions and to recognise the good practice within our communities, to replicate this in policy and practice, and to thus advance social justice and equality in Coventry, Britain and beyond.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    Education/Academic qualification

    Sociology of Religion, University of Gloucestershire


    Award Date: 30 Nov 2010

    External positions

    Chair, Muslims in Britain Research Network


    Member, CoramBAAF Black and Minority Ethnic Advisory Committee (BMEPAC)

    Visiting Fellow, Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences


    • BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
    • Islam in Britain
    • Muslim Women
    • Islamic Feminism
    • Sufism
    • Lived Religion
    • HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
    • Muslim Women
    • Islamic Feminism
    • Children in Care
    • Adoption
    • Foster Care


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