Dr Gëzim Alpion

Dr Gëzim Alpion

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Lecturer in Sociology
Departmental Director of International Mobility Programmes

Contact details

Address
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

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

Gëzim’s specialisms encompass the sociology of religion, nationalism, fame, race, media, film and authorship. He is considered ‘the most authoritative English-language author’ on St Teresa of Calcutta and ‘the founder of Mother Teresa Studies’.

In his recent publications Gëzim has explored the concept of charism/a from a sociological and public theology perspective, Enoch Powell’s populist rhetoric in the context of the eugenics discourse, and the reasons for the absence of modern spiritual icons in celebrity studies.

Gëzim is currently developing the idea of ‘fame capital’ as a variable in an intranational and international context, examining ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’ phenomenon from a sociological perspective, and exploring the role of religion in fabricating national identity.

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 main works include Mother Teresa: The Saint and Her Nation (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), Encounters with Civilizations: From Alexander the Great to Mother Teresa (Routledge, 2017), Madre Teresa: Santa o Celebrità? (Salerno Editrice, 2008), If Only the Dead Could Listen (Globic Press, 2008), and Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? (Routledge, 2007).

Gëzim has contributed several chapters in edited volumes published by SAGE Publications, University Press of America, and Brewin.

Gëzim’s studies and review articles have appeared in academic journals such as Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Celebrity Studies, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, The Review of Communication, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans (Routledge), International Journal of Public Theology (Brill), Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses (SAGE), Scope: Journal of Film Studies (University of Nottingham), The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (Wiley-Blackwell), Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press), and Filmbuff - An International Film Journal.

Gëzim has presented papers at prestigious international conferences at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, California Los Angeles, the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Shanghai, 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 in 15 countries at renowned institutions such as the London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London, McGill University, New York University, and the Universities of Delhi, Melbourne, Helsinki, and Cairo University. 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), Hindustan Times (New Delhi), The Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul), and MercatorNet (Sydney).

He has been interviewed, profiled and quoted by news agencies, radio and television networks, newspapers and journals in the UK and over 30 countries.

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 and Sociology of Film.

At the MA level he has delivered lectures on the sociology of success, fame and authorship. His lectures on the MA ‘Sociology of Racism’ focus on Eugenics, populist politics, and New Racism.

Postgraduate supervision

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

  • negotiating the representation of Arabs in Hollywood
  • role of rural TV dramas in implementing the ‘New Countryside’ policy in China
  • ‘new patriotism’ of Post-1980s generation in China
  • impact of globalization on the Chinese television market
  • religiosity amongst Young Sikhs in India and Britain
  • celebrity diplomacy
  • Liberian Civil War
  • second generation Filipino migrants in Britain
  • age stratification in China

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 supervise research students interested in the Sociology of:

  • Success and Fame: fame capital, celebrity culture, career in postmodernity
  • Religion: role of religion and religious icons in contemporary society
  • Authorship: production of knowledge, disinterested knowledge, copyright
  • Media: mis/representations, stereotyping, fake news
  • Nationality: paradigms of national identity, religion and nationalism

Research

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

  • Sociology of social stratification
  • Sociology of ‘race’ and ethnicity
  • Sociology of religion
  • Fame capital & celebrity culture
  • Sociology of authorship
  • Sociology of media
  • 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

  • sociological perspective of the ‘foreigner complex’
  • impact of 20th and 21st centuries irrigation projects on Egyptian society
  • upward social mobility of Nubian porters during Sadat’s rule
  • implementation of positive discrimination policies in India
  • impact of missionary education on ‘low castes’ in India
  • national costumes as signifiers of status and class in Southeast Europe

Sociology of ‘race’ and ethnicity

  • ethnicity, religion and the reconfiguration of borders after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire
  • ethnic conflicts and tensions in the Balkans in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • ethnic and religious consequences of separation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • relationship between indigenous people and immigrants
  • reaction of ‘ethnic’ English nationalism to immigration post WWII

Sociology of religion from the following perspectives

  • Feminism: Catholic women’s migration trajectory and modality of their mobility
  • Post-colonialism: attitude of India’s founding fathers towards missionaries
  • Religion and politics: The Holy See’s strategy in Southeast Europe and South Asia
  • Mysticism: ‘spiritual darkness’ in Roman Catholicism from medieval times to postmodernity

Fame Capital and Celebrity Culture

  • ‘fame capital’ as a variable in an intranational and international context
  • the ubiquity of celebrification

Sociology of Authorship

  • ‘elitist’ and ‘populist’ post/modernist theories of authorship
  • deconstruction, ‘la mort de l’auteur’, and the ‘supremacy’ of the reader

Sociology of Media

  • media as promoter/inhibitor of social change
  • interdependence between media and celebrities

Some of Gëzim’s projects over the next 10 years include:

  • Unholy Politics: Religion, National Identity and Nationalism
  • Can Humans Know God? The Mother Teresa Conundrum
  • The Specter of Neo-Ottomanism
  • In God’s Image: The Sociology of Authorship

Other activities

Gëzim has served as PhD examiner for well-known universities in India, external examiner for the BA Sociology degree at York St John University (UK), evaluator for Malta’s National Commission for Further & Higher Education, and editorial board member for various scholarly journals, including Celebrity Studies (Routledge).

He has reviewed book proposals for Palgrave Macmillan, Pearson Education, Polity Press, SAGE Publications and Routledge, and articles for peer-reviewed journals such as Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Celebrity Studies (Routledge), British Politics (Palgrave), International Journal of Public Theology (Brill), Cultural Sociology, European Journal of Social Theory, and International Journal of Cultural Studies (SAGE).

Gëzim became an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham, in 2000. He joined Max Weber Study Group of the British Sociological Association in 2011, and is a member of Gender and Feminist Theory Research Group, Postcolonial Birmingham Research Network, and the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS).

Publications

Select list of publications

Books

Alpion, G., Mother Teresa: The Saint and Her Nation, New Delhi, London, Oxford, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic, Forthcoming 2020

Alpion, G., Encounters with Civilizations: From Alexander the Great to Mother Teresa, London and New York: Routledge, 2017. 327 pages [Available as a hardback, paperback, an eBook, and on Kindle]  

Alpion, G., Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? London and New York: Routledge, 2007; New Delhi: Routledge India, 2008). 304 pages [Available as a hardback, a paperback, an eBook, and on Kindle]  

Alpion, G., Madre Teresa: Santa o Celebrità? Trans. Massimo Laria. Rome: Salerno Editrice, 2008. 408 pages [Available as a paperback]  

Alpion, G., If Only the Dead Could Listen, Chapel Hill, NC, USA: Globic Press, 2008. 120 pages [Available as a paperback.]  

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

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: University Press of America, 2012, pp. 30-52. [Available as a paperback, and an eBook

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

Articles in peer-reviewed journals as sole author

Alpion, G., Why are modern spiritual icons absent in celebrity studies? Celebrity Studies Journal. Published online in February 2019, pp. 1-16. 

Alpion, G., The Emergence of Mother Teresa as a Religious Visionary and the Initial Resistance to Her Charism/a: A Sociological and Public Theology Perspective, International Journal of Public Theology, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2014, pp. 25-50.  

Alpion, G., Brain down the drain – An exposé of social closure in Western academia, Albanian Journal of Politics, [Chapel Hill, NC: Globic Press] Vol. 4, Issue, 1, 2008, pp. 41-63; also in Encounters with Civilizations: From Alexander the Great to Mother Teresa, London and New York: Routledge, 2017, pp. 217-243.  

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, 2006, pp. 541-557.  

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, 2004, pp. 227-243.  

Book and Film Reviews in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Alpion, G, and S. Schwartz, Taken 1 and 2: A Dissenting Opinion, Review of: Pierre Morel (dir) Taken (2008), and Olivier Megaton (dir) Taken 2 (2012), for Filmbuff: An International Film Journal, Vol. 3, 2013.  

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, 2011, pp. 255-257.  

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, 2009.  

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, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2009, pp. 58-59.  

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

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, 2007, pp. 204-206.  

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, 2006, pp. 231-232.  

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, 2004, pp. 413-414. 

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 national and international English language newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Independent, The Conversation (London), The Birmingham Post, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, The Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul), Hindustan Times (New Delhi), and The Middle East Times (Cairo). MercatorNet (Sydney): 

Here is a select list: 

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

Alpion, G., Why Mother Teresa’s journey to sainthood took so long, The Independent, London, UK, 3 September 2016. 

Alpion, G., Mother Teresa: a ‘Saint of Darkness, MercatorNet, Sydney, Australia, 2 September 2016. 

Alpion, G., Two miracles and 19 years later: why Mother Teresa’s journey to sainthood took so long, The Conversation, London, UK, 1 September 2016. The article was also published in EconoTimes, 1 September 2016, and Businesses.com.au, 17 October 2016. 

Alpion, G., ‘Putting Mother Teresa under a microscope’, MercatorNet, 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., ‘Gëzim Alpion: 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; also printed in Iran Daily, Teheran, Iran, 8 September 2003, p. 7.  

Alpion, G., ‘What do men want? – We are second class citizens’ Global Women Magazine, London, UK, 16 July 2016, p. 58. 

Alpion, G., ‘Understanding Mother Teresa’s vocation and migration’, Migrant Woman Magazine, London, UK, September Issue, 2014, pp. 62-63. 

Alpion, G., ‘Awakening civil society and fighting national stereotypes’, Tirana Times, 30 May 30-6 June 2014, pp. 7-8. 

Alpion, G., ‘Take three: Social Media. Friend or FoeOld Joe asks three academics to lend their voices to a very modern debate’, Opinion piece with contributions from Scott Lucas, Russell Beale, and Gëzim Alpion, Old Joe Magazine, Birmingham, UK, Spring 2014, pp. 16-18.  

Alpion, G., ‘Sistine Chapel chimney could get sootier’, Birmingham Brief, Birmingham, UK, 1 March 2013.  

Alpion, G., ‘Who is afraid of Kosovo’s William Tell? – A response to Dick Marty’s allegations about Kosovo organ trafficking’, Illyria, New York City, December 31, 2010 – January 6, 2011, p. 6. 

Alpion, G., ‘Small nations, big names: The Albanians and their international high-flyers’, Light Magazine, London, UK, March-June 2005, pp. 29-30. 

Alpion, G., ‘A fairytale land that we just don’t live in’ – The Birmingham Post debate: ‘Why American TV is thinking out of the box’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 15 April 2005, p. 4. 

Alpion, G., ‘Why human rights must never just be selective’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 31 January 2004, p. 8. 

Alpion, G., ‘A rich land where poverty is the norm’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 8 December 2003: 10. 

Alpion, G., ‘A corner of Europe still waiting for peace’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 8 December 2003, p. 10. 

Alpion, G., ‘The mother who cared for the shunned’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 5 September 2003, p. 11. 

Alpion, G., ‘Political correctness stifles debate’, Spiked Magazine, London, UK, 24 July 2003. 

Alpion, G., ‘Racism of a different hue’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 5 July 2003, p. 9. 

Alpion, G., ‘America must grasp world’s complexity’, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham, UK, 22 May 2003, p. 13. 

Alpion, G., ‘Mother Teresa and the Balkans DNA politics’, BESA Journal, UK, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2003, pp. 28-30. 

Alpion, G., ‘Baron Franz Nopcsa and his ambition for the Albanian throne’, BESA Journal, UK, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2002, pp. 25-32. 

Alpion, G., ‘Images of Albania and Albanians in English literature from Edith Durham to J. K. Rowling’, BESA Journal, UK, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2002, pp. 30-34. 

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., ‘Albania’s sorry century’, Palatinate, Durham, UK, 13 June 1997, p. 4. 

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

Alpion, G., ‘Try ‘I don’t know’’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 14-20 September 1993, p. 14. 

Alpion, G., ‘Egypt for the Egyptians’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 14-20 September 1993, p. 12. 

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

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

Alpion, G., ‘The Bride of Hapi’, By G. I. Alpion and Middle East Times Staff, Cairo, Egypt, 31 August - 6 September 1993, pp. 1, 3. 

Alpion, G., ‘Cracked but not broken’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 24-30 August 1993, p. 12. 

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

Alpion, G., ‘Complete apathy’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 10-16 August 1993, p. 12. 

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

Alpion, G., ‘The computer chronicle’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 3-9 August 1993, p. 14. 

Alpion, G., ‘Back to the army’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 27 July - 2 August 1993, p. 12. 

Alpion, G., ‘When in Rome’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 20-26 July 1993, p. 12. 

Alpion, G., ‘Today’s bowab’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 6-12 July 1993, p. 12. 

Alpion, G., ‘The simsars in their prime’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 29 June - 5 July 1993, p. 13. 

Alpion, G., ‘The peasant bowab’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 22-28 June 1993, p. 12. 

Alpion, G., ‘The Nubian doorman’, Middle East Times, Cairo, Egypt, 15-21 June 1993, p. 12. 

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

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

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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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