Dr Reza Gholami

Dr Reza Gholami

School of Education
Senior lecturer
Deputy Head of Department

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Reza joined the School of Education in 2017 as a senior lecturer. Previously, he held a lectureship in sociology of education at Keele University as well as being a Visiting Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Education. He earned his PhD in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS, University of London, where he also conducted post-doctoral research funded by the AHRC.

His research interests include:

  1. Impact of transnationality and diversity (including migration and diaspora) on education practice and policy;
  2. Citizenship education, cosmopolitanism and social change in the contemporary/future world;
  3. Educational responses to extremism and counter-extremism (including questions of secularism and religion). 

Reza has also worked in consultancy/advisory roles with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations including British Council, the Foreign Office and numerous community organisations. His work in this area has tended to focus on improving educational and citizenship outcomes, intra- and inter-communal relations, policy making/implementation and research capacity building.


  • BA, MA, PhD (London)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Reza is Programme Director for the MA Education

He also leads the second-year undergraduate module Education Policy & Social Justice and the EdD module Educational Practices for Social Justice and Equity.

Postgraduate supervision

Please contact Dr Gholami directly if you are interested in pursuing doctoral research in an area related to his specialisms. 


Reza conducts qualitative and quantitative research; his work is informed by Critical Theory. In recent years, he has focused particularly on three inter-related areas:

  1. Impact of transnationality and diversity (including migration and diaspora) on education practice and policy;
  2. Citizenship education, cosmopolitanism and social change in the contemporary/future world;
  3. Educational responses to extremism and counter-extremism (including questions of secularism and religion).

He is currently analysing data collected during a project funded by British Council to gain insight into the ways in which dominant discourses and practices of ‘integration’ limit or ‘curtail’ the objective cultural and symbolic capital of minority-ethnic individuals, especially those from Muslim backgrounds.

A few other highlights from Reza’s recent research and scholarship:

In 2017, he co-edited “Education and Extremisms: Re-Thinking Liberal Pedagogies in the Contemporary World”. The book is a unique academic exploration of the problems and opportunities associated with addressing questions of extremism through education and the education system. His own chapter in the book, while calling for a ‘critical secular studies’ at secondary-school level, attempts to think beyond both secular and religious principles in favour of a new social ethic and public consciousness based on a social cosmopolitanism that demands a commitment to ‘everyday flexible transformation’ at the level of individuals.

He also studies the relationship between what he calls ‘diasporic education’ and processes of citizenship and social change. For example, as part of his British Council funded project, he looked at emerging models of education within the UK’s Iranian diaspora and examined the unique ways in which they engage the structures of the ‘host’ nation-states to produce cosmopolitan modes of being – i.e. practices and discourses that are ‘glocal’ in nature and cannot be fully claimed by any national or diasporic culture/politics.

Finally, he has also done research on the complexities of identity in the late-modern world and how these relate to official attitudes towards the teaching and learning of citizenship. His work has drawn attention to the fact that the subjectivities of diverse young British citizens are shaped partially by the historical events of other countries that they have links to – events of which the young people in question have very little or no knowledge/awareness. He has argued that these complex modalities of selfhood form crucial aspects of contemporary citizenship yet are not adequately acknowledged and engaged by formal curricula. 

Other activities

Recent Invited Lectures

Diasporic Living and the Secular – Lessons for Identity, Citizenship and Education, Keynote Lecture delivered at the Non-religion and Secularity Research Network conference, King’s College, London, 5-6 July 2018

Prevent and Schooling: Urgent Questions for Citizenship, Diversity and Policy, Faculty of Education, Edge-Hill University, 13 Nov 2017 

Extremisms of the Mainstream and Educational Futures, to be presented as part of the Learning and Teaching Seminar Series at SOAS, University of London, 26 Oct 2017 

The Quagmire of ‘Integration’: Class, Capital and Secularity in the UK Iranian Diaspora, Department of Religious Studies, University of Edinburgh, 18 Oct 2017 

Secularism and Identity: The Case of Non-Islamiosity in the Iranian Diaspora, Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College, London, 29 Nov 2016 

The ‘Sweet Spot’ Between Submission and Subversion: Diaspora, Education and Identity among UK Iranians, Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Käte Hamburger Kolleg, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, 22 April 2015

Selected conference papers

Cosmopolitanism as Transformative Experience: Education, Extremisms and a New Social Ethic in the Post-Truth Era, International Sociological Association, XIX World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, Canada, 15-21 July 2018.

Transformative Citizenship: Rethinking Secularism, Religiosity and Cosmopolitanism in a time of ‘Post-Truth’, Annual Conference of the Political Studies Association, Glasgow, 10-12 April 2017. 

'Diasporic Education', Self-Making and Citizenship in Late-Modernity: A Critical Exploration of 'Muslim Schools' and 'Supplementary' Education in the UK, BERA Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 14 September 2016. 

The Diasporization of Educational Space: An Ethnographic Exploration of Power and Educational Experience within Iranian Supplementary Schools in London, the International Sociological Association 3rd Forum of sociology, University of Vienna, 12 July 2016 

Diaspora, Education and Citizenship in Late-Modernity: Exploring Muslim Modes of Education and Criticality in Contemporary Britain, “Education, Extremism and Criticality,” UCL Institute of Education, 8 May 2015. (I co-organised this conference)

Editorial Boards

Editorial Board Member: Educational Review

Editorial Board Member: Sage Open

Editorial Board Member: International Studies in Sociology of Education 

Membership of professional bodies

Member of the European Sociological Association

Member of the British Sociological Association

Member of the Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE), University of Birmingham

Associate Member of the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education, UCL Institute of Education, University College London



Panjwani, F., Revell, L., Gholami, R. & Diboll, M. (2017) Education and Extremisms: Re-Thinking Liberal Pedagogies in the Contemporary World. London and New York: Routledge https://www.routledge.com/Education-and-Extremisms-Rethinking-Liberal-Pedagogies-in-the-Contemporary/Panjwani-Revell-Gholami-Diboll/p/book/9781138236110

Gholami, R. (2015) Secularism and Identity: Non-Islamiosity in the Iranian Diaspora. London and New York: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/products/9781472430106 

Peer-reviewed articles

Gholami, R. & Sreberny, A. (accepted - forthcoming) Integration and the Marginalization of Shia Identities in the UK Iranian Diaspora, Journal of Contemporary Islam

Domingo, M. & Gholami, R. (forthcoming) Diasporas in Digital Environments: Transcultural sites of learning and belonging, International Studies in Sociology of Education 

Gholami, R. (2017) 'Beyond Myths of ‘Muslim Education’: A Case Study of Two Iranian Schools in London, Oxford Review of Education http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2017.1352352

Gholami, R. (2017) The Art of Self-Making: Identity and Citizenship Education in Late-Modernity, British Journal of Sociology of Education Vol. 38, Issue 6, PP. 798-811  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2016.1182006

Cannizzaro, S. & Gholami, R. (2016) The Devil is Not in the Detail: Representational Absence and Stereotyping in the ‘Trojan Horse’ News Story, Race Ethnicity and Education http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2016.1195350

Gholami, R. (2014) ‘Is This Islamic Enough?’ Intra-Diasporic Secularism and Religious Experience in the Shi`a Iranian Diaspora in London, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies Vol. 40, Issue 1, PP. 60-79 doi/abs/10.1080/1369183X.2013.782150

Book chapters

Gholami, R. (forthcoming) Citizenship and Education in an Age of Extremisms (in) Peterson, A., Stahl, G. & Soong, H. (Eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Citizenship and Education. Palgrave Macmillan.

Sreberny, A. & Gholami R. (in press) The politics of diasporic integration: The case of Iranians in Britain, in Tsagarousianou, R. & Retis, J. (Eds.) The Wiley Handbook of Diasporas, Media and Culture. Wiley-Blackwell.

Gholami, R. (2018) Cosmopolitanism as Transformative Experience: Towards a New Social Ethic in Panjwani, F., Revell, L., Gholami, R. & Diboll, M. (Eds.) Education and Extremisms: Re-Thinking Liberal Pedagogies in the Contemporary World. Routledge.

Spellman-Poots, K. & Gholami, R. (2018) Iranians in Great Britain: Integration, Cultural Production and Challenges of Identity in Mobasher, M. (ed.) Iranians in Diaspora: Comparative Perspective on Iranian Immigrants in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. University of Texas Press.

Gholami, R. (2017) The Sweet Spot between Submission and Subversion: Diaspora, Education and the Cosmopolitan Project in Carment, D. & Sadjed, A. (Eds.) Diaspora as Cultures of Cooperation: Global and Local Perspectives. Palgrave, pp. 49-69. 

Gholami, R. (2017) Being Openly Religious: Non-Islamiosity, Discrimination and Devout Shi`ism within the Iranian Diaspora in London in vom Bruck, G. and Tripp, C. (Eds.) Precarious Belongings: Being Shi`i in Non-Shi`i Worlds. London: CASS.

Other publications

Diboll, M. and Gholami, R. (2018) Beyond Prevent: helping students to think critically is a better way to discourage extremism UCL-IoE London Blog: https://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/beyond-prevent-helping-students-to-think-critically-is-a-better-way-to-discourage-extremism/

Gholami, R. (2016) Radical Social Change via the ‘Un-radical’: Thinking through ‘Diasporic Education’ Social Theory Applied. http://socialtheoryapplied.com/2016/08/12/radical-social-change-via-diasporic-education/

Gholami, R. & Sreberny, A. (2016) Iranian Communities in Britain: A Research Report. London Middle East Institute. Available online: https://www.soas.ac.uk/lmei-cis/events/file113142.pdf 

Media experience

Recent media information

Some of his research on the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair was cited by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in mainstream news outlet “International Business Times”: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/islamists-wont-give-trying-take-over-british-schools-because-nobody-willing-stop-them-1607790

Times Higher Education published an article about a conference he co-organised: Education, Extremism and Criticality: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/universities-turned-into-major-arena-for-counter-extremism-warns-academic/2020249.article

Interview in ‘Eldiario.es’ on the issue of associating terrorism/violent extremism with Islam: http://www.eldiario.es/internacional/Nadie-dilucidar-Woolwich-problemas-psiquiatricos_0_138236811.html

Short film made by Faculti Media about his research into citizenship education. https://faculti.net/tag/reza-gholami/