Staff Directory

Yafa shanneik 1x1 5548 v2

Contact Details

Log in to update your profile


BA (Hons) (Yarmouk University, Jordan), M.A. and Ph.D. (University of Würzburg, Germany)


I joined the University of South Wales in July 2015. I am a specialist in Islam and Christianity. My research covers the following areas:

I am particularly interested in Sunni and Shia women in Europe and their transnational networks to the Middle East. I am interested in Muslim women’s leadership and authority in private and public spheres and examine the changing nature of women’s participation in religious practices in Europe as well as in the Gulf (in countries such as Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain and Iran). I analyse how Muslim women engage with the sources of Islam and make them relevant to today’s time especially through the lens of ritual practices. In addition, I work intensively on religious conversion and focus on women’s narratives of identity and belonging.

My research also focuses on the role of religion and religious patronages and their impact on children’s understandings of religious diversity in the classroom, particularly in terms of the institutionalisation and exclusion of difference in primary schools. My particular interest lies in investigating the increasingly essentialist assertion of Catholic school identities highlighting the First Holy Communion ceremony as a parish-based celebration. A great amount of my research focuses on religious ritual practices and rites of passages.

I have published a number of peer-reviewed articles and chapters in edited volumes on the aforementioned topics. I co-authored a book on Muslims in Ireland: Past and Present (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015) and edited a book on Religious Education in a Global-Local World (Dordrecht: Springer, forthcoming 2016). I just published a research report on Children’s Beliefs and Belongings: A Schools and Families Report from the ‘Making Communion’ Study.


Ethnographic fieldwork: working with communities, in schools (young people and children)


Teaching undergraduate modules on religions of the Middle East with a particular focus on Islam.

Establishing collaborative academic partnerships with Universities in the Middle East.

Writing research funding applications.


Oliver Scharbrodt, Tuula Sakaranaho, Adil Hussain Khan, Vivian Ibrahim, Yafa Shanneik (2015), Muslims in Ireland: Past and Present. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Jenny Berglund, Brian Bocking and Yafa Shanneik (eds.) (Summer 2016), Religious Education in a Global-Local World. Dordrecht: Springer.

Yafa Shanneik (in preparation), Shia Hermeneutics and Muslim Women’s Ritual Practices.

Yafa Shanneik and Sayyid Fadhil Bahrululoom (in preparation), No One Buried Karbala: Annotated Translation of Iraqi Shia Women Ta‘ziyye Poetry from 1900 until 2000.

Karl Kitching and Yafa Shanneik (in preparation), Making Communion. Disappearing and Emerging Forms of Irish Childhood.

Peer-reviewed articles (selected):
Yafa Shanneik (2015), ‘Remembering Karbala in the Diaspora: Religious Rituals among Iraqi Shii Women in Ireland’ in: Religion, 45 (1): 89-102.
Yafa Shanneik (2012), ‘Conversion to Islam in Ireland: A Post-Catholic Subjectivity’, Journal of Muslims in Europe, 2 (1): 166-188.
Yafa Shanneik (2012), ‘Religion and Diasporic Dwelling: Algerian Muslim Women in Ireland’, Religion and Gender, 2 (1): 80-100.
Yafa Shanneik (2011), ‘Conversion and Religious Habitus: The Experiences of Irish Women Converts to Islam in the Pre-Celtic Tiger Era’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 31 (4): 507-521.

Book chapters (selected):
Yafa Shanneik (forthcoming 2016), ‘They aren’t Holy’: Dealing with Religious Differences in Irish Primary Schools in: Religious Education in a Global-Local World. Dordrecht: Springer.
Yafa Shanneik and Marja Tiilikainen (forthcoming 2016), ‘Sudanese and Somali Women in Ireland and in Finland: Material Religion and Culture in the Formation of Migrant Women’s Identities in the Diaspora’ in: At the Margins of Europe? Muslims in Finland, Ireland and Portugal, ed. by Toumas Martikainen, José Mapril and Adil Hussain Khan. Leiden: Brill.
Yafa Shanneik (2013), ‘Gendering Religious Authority in the Diaspora: Shii Women in Ireland’, in: Religion, Gender and the Public Sphere, ed. by Niamh Reilly and Stacey Scriver-Furlong. New York: Routledge.
Yafa Shanneik (2008), ‘A Literary Dialogue of Cultures: Arab Authors in Germany’, in: Islam and Muslims in Germany, ed. by Ala El-Hamarneh and Joern Thielmann. Leiden: Brill.

Children’s Beliefs and Belongings: A Schools and Families Report from the ’Making Communion Study.


British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS)
Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR)
American Academy of Religion (AAR)


External funding:

In 2013, I received a starting (seed funding) travel and research grant by the COST Action: IS1203 ‘In Search of a Transcultural Memory in Europe’ to undertake ethnographic research among Iraqi Shia women in London in November 2013.

I was awarded a research grant of the European Commission in 2006 for a year-long project ‘European Culture from Inside and from Outside: Transculturalism and the Literature of Migrants’.


Research Interests:

Sunni and Shia Muslim communities in Europe and in the Middle East with a particular focus on the Gulf

Gender, Islam and modernity in the Middle East

Transnational Islam and migration

Religious practices and rituals among Muslims in Europe and the Middle East

Islamic Feminism

PhD and DProf Supervision:

I welcome inquiries for research at doctoral level in any of my research areas listed above or from students wishing to explore other areas within:

Islam in contemporary Europe and the Middle East

Women’s movements and feminism in the Middle East

Religious conversion

Religious practices and rituals

Religious Education in Europe

Religion and childhood in contemporary Europe

Postcolonial literature

Areas of Expertise

Contemporary Islam in Europe
Gender and Islam in the Middle East
Conversion to Islam
Religious Ritual
Religious Education

If you are a journalist on deadline and you need to speak with a member of university staff with particular expertise, please contact the Press Office.