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The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement



Zeina Al Azmeh is a Centenary Research Fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Zeina is also a guest lecturer in the Department of Sociology and a research associate at the Centre for Governance and Human Rights. Her work focuses on the political sociology of higher education and the cultural sociology of academics and intellectuals in exile. More specifically, she specialises in the sociologies of knowledge production, memorialisation, and migration, with a focus on forced displacement caused by political persecution and counterrevolutions.
Zeina completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge in 2021, where she examined the role of exiled Syrian intellectuals in civil resistance. Zeina is also trained as a musician, holding a bachelor's degree in piano performance and a master's degree in music composition. Prior to academia, she worked in higher education administration. Her last role before Cambridge was Assistant Vice President for Strategic Communications and Outreach at Qatar University.


My research sits at the intersection of political sociology, cultural sociology, migration studies, and postcolonial theory. My research methods are mostly qualitative, but I have also worked with quantitative methods. In my current research I draw on interviews, document analysis and ethnography to inquire into the mechanisms that shape knowledge production and influence political subjectivities in contexts of political exile. This work sets out the basic principles for a proposed ‘critical decolonial cultural sociology’ as a methodology and conceptual framework through which I aim to unsettle the universalising claims of hegemonic cultural theory and examine the specificities and erasures enfolded within states of permanent crisis (or chronic trauma) in the global south.

As the centenary research fellow at Cambridge's Selwyn College, I am currently examining the role of exiled intellectuals in social movements and in constructing political subjectivities in the diaspora. The study takes as its empirical basis exiled intellectuals and other influencers from Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia. In this project I take particular interest in the relationship between knowledge production, intellectual labor, exile, and diasporic political subjectivity.

Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Sociology
Centenary Research Fellow, Selwyn College

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