Laura Zahra McDonald

Research Fellow

Applied Social Studies

Contact details

School of Social Policy, IASS
Muirhead Tower, Room 914
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom


Laura is currently working with the inter-disciplinary Securities, Communities & Global Justice Grouping, on research funded by the AHRC Religion and Society Programme to explore engagement and partnership between police and Muslim communities in relation to counter-terrorism, including the role of Muslim women and young people in this area.


  • PhD Women’s Studies, University of York, UK 
  • MA Honours 1st Class Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews, UK


After studying Social Anthropology with sub-honours in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of St Andrews, Laura Zahra McDonald completed her PhD at the Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of York using fieldwork with Muslim converts to explore women’s ideas and activism in relation to Islamic feminisms and the intersection of gender, ethnicity, faith and nation.

Her research interests include Islam, gender and activism, Muslim experiences and critical perspectives of 'New Terror', and the politics of diversity and identity. She is keen to develop the links between academic research, grassroots activism and public policy, particularly with regards to the impact on minority groups in Britain.


  • Social Divisions
  • Ethnic Relations in Britain – Contemporary & Historical Perspectives
  • Crime, Victims & Society
  • Islam & Gender


McDonald, L.Z. (2011) ‘Listening to the experts: Muslim youth work in the UK and its implication for security’ in Religion, State & Society Journal, Special Edition edited by Spalek & Shterin

McDonald, L.Z. (2010) ‘European Islamic Feminism' in Ben-Dor Benite, Zvi. (ed) The Oxford Handbook of the Islamic Diaspora, Oxford University Press

Spalek, B. & McDonald, L.Z. (2009) ‘Terror Crime Prevention: constructing Muslim practices and beliefs as ‘anti-social’ and ‘extreme’ through CONTEST 2’, in Social Policy and Society Journal, Themed Section: Disciplining Difference

McDonald, Spalek, El Awa & Lambert (2008) Police Partnership with Muslim Communities: key in countering terrorism in ‘Arches Quarterly’ Vol. 2 Ed. 1

McDonald, LZ. (2008) Islamic Feminism – A Review Essay. ‘Feminist Theory Journal’ December 2008 9 (3

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