Saleema Burney joined the University of Birmingham in June 2021 as a Research Fellow on the ‘Science and the Transmission of Islamic Knowledge in Britain’ (2020-2023) project, funded by Rice University, Texas. This project sits within the wider Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group, based in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion that conduct social scientific and humanities-based research on various aspects of the relationship between science and religion in society.
Her PhD thesis, entitled ‘British Muslim Women Between Community, Country and God’, explores the successful identification of an otherwise caricatured and unheard group of minority women. Her research focuses on British Muslim culture, religion in the West, the integration of minorities and Muslim women's social activism. It aims to rebut the ‘veil and victimhood’ caricature of Muslim women with first-hand narratives of their lives and their contribution. In addition, she highlights methodological limitations in the application of social science theories and approaches to the study of religious minorities generally, and Muslims more specifically.
She is passionate about studying and fostering cross-community relations in urban settings. She argues that there remains significant potential in superdiverse urban spaces to develop 'weak ties', and that, given the appropriate conditions, the future for both minorities and host communities in Britain is positive.
Prior to joining the University of Birmingham, she worked in local government, as a Research Fellow for a think tank and in the education sector as a schoolteacher and governor.
She returned to higher education after spending many years raising her family, and proudly support the empowerment of all young people, but especially girls like her own. She believes that together we can build a more cohesive and contemplative society, and contribute to this through her research on the role of religion in society.
Currently, she also support the integration of migrants and refugees in their new societies through her work as a Trustee of Wycombe Refugee Partnership.