Dr Gëzim Alpion

Dr Gëzim Alpion

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Sociology Admissions Director
Study Abroad Officer

Contact details

Telephone
+44 (0)121 414 3241
Fax
+44 (0)121 414 3496
Email
g.i.alpion@bham.ac.uk
Address
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Qualifications

  • PhD Durham University
  • BA Cairo University

Biography

Educated at Cairo University and the University of Durham, Gëzim Alpion lectured at the Universities of Huddersfield, Sheffield Hallam, and Newman prior to joining the Department of Sociology at the University of Birmingham in 2002. He joined the Department of Political Science and International Studies in 2010 and the School of Social Policy in 2016.

Gëzim’s research areas encompass the sociology of religion, fame, race, media, film and authorship. His main works include, Mother Teresa: Saint and Celebrity? (2007), If Only the Dead Could Listen (2008), and Encounters with Civilizations: From Alexander the Great to Mother Teresa (2011).

In his most recent publications Gëzim has addressed the concept of charism/a from a sociological and public theology perspective, and has approached Enoch Powell’s views on immigration in the context of the eugenics discourse.

Gëzim is currently developing the idea of ‘fame capital’ as a variable in an intranational and international context, and exploring the significance of Mother Teresa’s ‘dark night of the soul’ in a post-modernist context. His new study on Mother Teresa’s roots and her first eighteen years in Skopje, due in 2018, is based entirely on hitherto unpublished information.

This is a select list of the academic journal that have published Gëzim’s articles, review articles and reviews: International Journal of Public Theology (Brill), Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies (Routledge), Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations Journal, The Review of Communication (Routledge), Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses (SAGE), and The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (Wiley-Blackwell).

Gëzim has presented papers at prestigious international conferences at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of California Los Angeles, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Shanghai University, and the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. He is invited regularly as keynote speaker at international academic gatherings and has delivered invited lectures at 5 universities in the UK and over 50 lectures at universities in 15 countries, including the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University College London, McGill University, New York University, the University of Delhi, Melbourne University, and the University of Helsinki. He has also had lecture tours in India (2005), North America (2008), and Finland (2012).

Gëzim has written over 60 features, op-eds and articles on British, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Indian politics, culture and identity for a number of international media outlets such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Conversation (London), The Middle East Times (Cairo), The Hindustan Times (New Delhi), and The Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul).

He is regularly interviewed by the international media for his expertise. To date he has been interviewed, profiled and quoted by leading news agencies, television networks, newspapers and magazines in over 30 countries in as many languages.

Teaching

Gëzim convenes and teaches on the second year course "Sociology of 'Race' and Ethnicity: A Global Perspective", and level three modules "Sociology of Success and Fame" (which he introduced in 2008) and "Sociology of Film".

At the MA level he has delivered lectures on the sociology of success, fame and authorship. In addition he supervises undergraduate and MA dissertations.

Postgraduate supervision

Gëzim provides supervision for both MPhil and PhD students and post-doctoral fellows. Some of the topics covered by his past and current doctoral and postdoctoral candidates include:

Gëzim chairs PhD vivas, and acts as Examiner for postgraduate theses at the University of Birmingham and overseas. More recently he has been external examiner for doctoral theses submitted to the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India, and the University of Calcutta.

Gëzim would be happy to consider supervising research students interested in the following areas:

  • Sociology of Success and Fame: charisma, fame capital, celebrity culture, and celebrification of politics
  • Sociology of Religion: role of religious icons in contemporary society, religion and post-modernity, dark night of the soul, relationship between mysticism and scholasticism, patriarchy in Catholicism
  • Sociology of Authorship: production of knowledge, disinterested knowledge, and copyright
  • Sociology of Media: mis/representations, and stereotyping
  • Socioliology of Nationality: paradigms of national identity, anarchy and nationalism

Research

Gëzim’s major research interests are in the following areas:

  • Sociology of social stratification
  • Sociology ‘race’ and ethnicity
  • Sociology of religion
  • Fame Capital & Celebrity culture
  • Sociology of authorship
  • Sociology of media
  • The Politics of representation and stereotyping (in cinema, literature and media)
  • Cognitive property, intellectual property, and copyright

Some of the aspects covered in Gëzim’s publications and work in progress include:

Sociology of social stratification

  • prohibition of Egyptians from joining Roman army or establishing their own corps
  • impact on Egyptian society of irrigation projects in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • upward social mobility of Nubian porters during Sadat’s rule
  • efforts of successive Indian governments to implement positive discrimination policies
  • impact of missionary education on ‘low castes’ in India
  • national costumes as signifiers of status and class: Albanian and Greek fustanella, Roman toga, and Scottish kilt

Sociology of ‘race’ and ethnicity

  • role of ethnicity, religion and culture in determining borders in the Balkans after  collapse of the Ottoman Empire
  • ethnic conflicts and tensions in the Balkans throughout the 20th century
  • ethnic and religious consequences of separation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • relationship between indigenous people and immigrants
  • demographic changes and efforts to curb the rise of ‘ethnic’ English nationalism in Britain post WWII

Sociology of religion from the following perspectives:

  • Feminism: nature and motives of Catholic women’s migration trajectory and modality of their mobility
  • Post-colonialism: attitude of India’s founding fathers towards missionaries
  • Religion and politics: relationship between Catholic missionaries and communists governments in West Bengal; role of religion in fabricating national identity from the East-West Schism of 1054 up until the 1844 Greek ‘Megali Idea’ (Great Idea)
  • Mysticism: Mother Teresa’s spiritual darkness in the context of creationist and evolutionist debates; compare the dark night of the soul of Saint Teresa of Calcutta with the spiritual aridity of Catholic saints like John of the Cross, Teresa of Ávila and Thérèse of Lisieux

Fame Capital and Celebrity Culture

  • ‘fame capital’ as a variable in an intranational and international context.

Sociology of Authorship

  • post/modernist theories of authorship in the context of ‘elitist’ and ‘populist’ perspectives as well as of the impact of Derrida’s and Barthes’ views on deconstruction, ‘la mort de l’auteur’, and the ‘supremacy’ of the reader.

Sociology of Media

  • role of media in: promoting/inhibiting social change in post/modernist society; the emergence and transformation of the public sphere; sstereotyping the ‘other’
  • Mother Teresa’s relationship with the media

Gëzim is working at the moment on two academic monographs and an article. His long-term projects include the following studies:

  • The Perks and Pitfalls of Power: From Napoleon to Obama
  • Can Humans Know God? The Mother Teresa Conundrum
  • National Costumes and Social Structures: Illyrian and Greek Fustanella, Roman Toga, and Scottish Kilt
  • In God’s Image: The Sociology of Authorship.

Other activities

Gëzim is an editorial board member and reviewer for a range of peer-reviewed journals including Celebrity Studies (Routledge).

Some of the academic journals that have invited him to review articles include Cultural Sociology, European Journal of Social Theory, International Journal of Cultural Studies (SAGE), British Politics Journal (Palgrave), Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations, Celebrity Studies (Routledge), and International Journal of Public Theology (Brill). He has also reviewed book manuscripts for Palgrave Macmillan, Polity Press, SAGE Publications, Routledge, and Pearson Education.

Gëzim became an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham, in 2000. He is a member of Max Weber Study Group of the British Sociological Association, Gender and Feminist Theory research group, and Postcolonial Birmingham Research Network.

Gëzim is currently external examiner for the BA Sociology Degree at York St John University.

Publications

Select list of publications

Books

Alpion, G., Encounters with Civilizations: From Alexander the Great to Mother Teresa, New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 2011. 327 pages [Available as a paperback] http://www.transactionpub.com/title/Encounters-with-Civilizations-978-1-4128-1831-5.html

Alpion, G., Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? London and New York: Routledge, 2007. 304 pages [Available as a hardback, a paperback, an eBook, and on Kindle] https://www.routledge.com/Mother-Teresa-Saint-or-Celebrity/Alpion/p/book/9780415392471

  • Indian edition (also in English) was published by Routledge India in New Delhi in 2008. 308 pages [Available as a paperback only in South Asia.]
  • Italian edition. Madre Teresa: Santa o Celebrità? Trans. Massimo Laria. Rome: Salerno Editrice, 2008. 408 pages [Available as a paperback] http://www.salernoeditrice.it/Scheda_libro.asp?id=1666&it=ok&categoria=11&jump=2
  • The book has been reviewed in the following languages: Albanian, Bengali, Chinese, Dutch, English, German, Hungarian, Italian, Indonesian, Maltese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovakian and Spanish.

Alpion, G., Foreigner Complex: Essays about Egypt, Birmingham: UBCPS, 2002.

Articles in books as sole author

Alpion, G., ‘The Specter of Communalism and the Eugenic Solution to Britain’s Immigration Problem’, in J. Tripathy and S. Padmanabhan (eds.), Becoming Minority: How Discourses and Policies Produce Minorities in Europe and India, London and New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2014, pp. 196-223. [Available as a hardback, a paperback, and on Kindle] https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/becoming-minority/book244364

Alpion, G., ‘European Media and ‘Outsiders’ within — Contemporary Representations of Albania in the British Press’, in A. Schumann (ed.), Logic in Central and Eastern Europe: History, Science and Discourse, Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America, 2012, pp. 30-52. [Available as a paperback, and an eBook] https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780761858911

Alpion, G., ‘Albanian community in the West Midlands’, in M. A. Chishti (Compiler) Look Virsa – Cultural Voyage: Exploring the Muslim Heritage, Studley: Brewin, UK, 2008, pp. 13-15. [Available as a paperback, and an eBook]

Articles in peer-reviewed journals as sole author

Alpion, G., ‘The Emergence of Mother Teresa as a Religious Visionary and the Initial Resistance to Her Charisma/a: A Sociological and Public Theology Perspective’, International Journal of Public Theology, Vol. 8, No. 1, February 2014, pp. 25-50. http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/15697320-12341328

Alpion, G., ‘Enoch Powell, immigration and English nationalism’. Studia Humana Quarterly Journal, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 53-66.

Alpion, G., ‘Brain down the drain – An exposé of social closure in Western academia’, Albanian Journal of Politics, [Chapel Hill, NC, USA], Vol. 4, Issue, 1, June 2008, pp. 41-63.

Alpion, G., ‘Media and celebrity culture: subjectivist, structuralist and post-structuralist approaches to Mother Teresa’s celebrity status’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Vol. 20, No. 4, December 2006, pp. 541-557. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10304310600988328

Alpion, G., ‘Media, ethnicity and patriotism: The Balkans “unholy war” for the appropriation of Mother Teresa’, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans (now Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies), Vol. 6, No. 3, December 2004, pp. 227-243. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1461319042000296796?src=recsys&journalCode=cjsb19

Book Reviews in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Alpion, G., Review of: S. Schwartz, The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony [New York and London: Doubleday, 2007] for Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, Vol. 40, Issue 2, June 2011, pp. 255-257. http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/156973212x635118

Alpion, G., ‘Satyajit Ray: “The Visionary Cinéaste”’, Review Article of: G. Roberge, Satyajit Ray [New Delhi: Manohar, 2007] for Scope: Journal of Film Studies, Issue 13, February 2009. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/scope/documents/2009/february-2009/book-rev-feb-2009.pdf

Alpion, G., Review of: G Roberge, ‘Valuing Humanity in the New Media Environment’, Cyberbani: Being a Human in the New Media Environment. [New Delhi: Anand Press] for The Review of Communication Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1. January 2009, pp. 58-59. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15358590802074696

Alpion, G., Review of: G. Roberge, Satyajit Ray [New Delhi: Manohar, 2007] for Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies, December 2008, Vol. 38, Issue 2, pp. 107-108. http://muse.jhu.edu/article/255594

Alpion, G., Review of: J. Pettifer and M. Vickers, The Albanian Question: Reshaping the Balkans [London & New York: I. B. Tauris, 2007] for Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Vol. 9, No. 2, August 2007, pp. 204-206. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14613190701419623

Alpion, G., Review of: (ed.) I. Pardo, Between Morality and the Law: Corruption, Anthropology and Comparative Society [Aldershot, UK & Burlington, USA: Ashgate] for The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 12, No. 1, March 2006, pp. 231-232. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2006.00289_12.x/abstract

Alpion, G., Review of: P. Kola, The Search for Greater Albania [London: Hurst, 2003] for Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations Journal, Vol. 15, No. 3, July 2004, pp. 413-414. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0959641042000233291

Other publications – books and plays

Alpion, G., If Only the Dead Could Listen, Chapel Hill, NC, USA: Globic Press, 2008. 91 pages. [Available as a paperback] https://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Only-Dead-Could-Listen/dp/0980189616

Sponsored by Arts Council England, If Only the Dead Could Listen was staged at the MAC Theatre in Birmingham in February 2006 and again at the MAC and Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton in April 2008.

Alpion, G., Foreigner Complex: Essays and Fiction about Egypt, Birmingham, UK: UBCPS, 2002. 103 pages [Available as a paperback]

Alpion, G., Vouchers: A Tragedy, Birmingham, UK: UBCPS, 2001. 110 pages [Available as a paperback]

Vouchers was first staged at the Festival of Contemporary European Plays in Huddersfield, UK, on 16 March 2002.

Journalism

Gëzim has written over 60 features, op-eds, and articles on social stratification, social mobility, migration, ethnic relations, multiculturalism, politics, celebrity culture, St Teresa of Calcutta, cinema, and religion in a British, American, Balkan and Middle Eastern context for a number of international English language newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Independent, The Conversation (London), ‘The Hürriyet Daily News’ (Istanbul), ‘The Hindustan Times’ (New Delhi), and ‘The Middle East Times’ (Cairo). Here is a select list:

Alpion, G., ‘The European who refused to be a ‘Memsahib’’, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India, 4 September 2016. 

Alpion, G., ‘Why Mother Teresa’s journey to sainthood took so long: Mother Teresa is about to become a saint, despite accusations of ‘religious fundamentalism’ and criticisms of the medical care her order gave to the sick”, The Independent, London, UK, 3 September 2016. 

Alpion, G., ‘Mother Teresa: a ‘Saint of Darkness’: An Albanian sociologist reflects upon the amazing impact of the little nun in a white sari’, Mercator Net, Sydney, Australia, 2 September 2016. 0

Alpion, G., ‘Putting Mother Teresa under a microscope’, Mercator Net, Sydney, Australia, 20 May 2016. 

Alpion, G., ‘Albania v Serbia football drone farce shows Balkan nationalism is still a dangerous powder keg’, The Conversation, London, UK, 16 October 2014. 

Alpion, G., ‘How do you study a problem like Mother Teresa’, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India, 23 March 2014. 

Alpion G., and S. Schwartz, ‘‘Taken’ 1 and 2: Dissenting opinions’, The Hürriyet Daily News, Istanbul, Turkey, 12 November 2012. 

Alpion, G., ‘We may not all be royalists but don’t spoil the party for those who are’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 21-27 April 2011, pp. 26-27. 

Alpion, G., ‘Oh! not Calcutta’, The Guardian, London and Manchester, UK, 6 September, 2003. 

Alpion, G., ‘Why Britain can be so proud of its role in the Kosovan conflict’, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Huddersfield, UK, 21 June, 1999, p. 6.

Alpion, G., ‘The genesis of Egyptian coffee shops’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 23-29 May 1994, p. 6.

Alpion, G., ‘Power returns to the people: The making of Egypt’s politicians’, Middle East Times, 7-13 September 1993, p. 19.

Alpion, G., ‘Becoming foreign to become Egyptian’, Middle East Times, 31 August - 6 September 1993, p. 12.

Alpion, G., ‘Cultural invasion’, Middle East Times, 17-23 August 1993, p. 13.

Alpion, G., ‘Enslaved by the slaves’, Middle East Times, 3-9 August 1993, p. 16.

Alpion, G., ‘An interview with Mohammed Ali’s Ghost’, Middle East Times, 8-14 June 1993, p. 12.

Alpion, G., ‘Illiterate Polyglots’, Middle East Times, 27 April - 3 May 1993, p. 13.

Expertise

Sociology of media, religion, fame and nationality; political correctness in British/Western media; celebrity culture; film studies; Anglo-American studies; brain drain; media representation of asylum seekers and refugees in British and Western media; Mother Teresa; fame capital

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