Professor Karima Laachir

MA, PhD University of Leeds, UK, PGCHE University of Birmingham, UK
Director of ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 61 2 612 54982

Research interests

  • The Politics of Culture in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Popular Culture and social and political movements of mobilisation
  • Literature, cinema, arts and popular music of MENA
  • Arab and Muslim Diasporas in the West and anti-racist cultural politics
  • Comparative Literature of the Global South (Arabophone, Francophone, Anglophone)
  • Arab Intellectual Thoughts from Declonisation period to contemporary times
  • Arabic Feminist thoughts and traditions



Karima Laachir took up the position of Director of The ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies in January 2020. Prior to her appointment, Karima held a tenured position at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where she was also the Director of the SOAS Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies.  Prior to that, she was Lecturer in Cultural Theory at the University of Birmingham (UK) where she co-established a BA programme in Culture, Society and Communication and helped convene a seminar series on “Gender in Islamic Societies” organised for the UK Chevening Foreign Office Programme on “Islam and Governance”. She previously taught at the University of Leeds (UK) where she conducted extensive outreach activities with Muslim and non-Muslim communities to improve access to higher education. As part of this initiative, Karima taught community courses on Islamic History, Gender in Islam and Arabic Language.

Karima’s broader research interests are located at the interface between Humanities and Social Sciences exploring culture/arts and activism under authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. Her published work moves beyond the dominant binary perception of Arabic Middle Eastern cultural productions as ‘co-opted’ by or resistant to the States to outline the various dimensions of cultural politics that involve local, national and global flows and structures. She is interested in the intersectionality and articulation of the questions of class, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality in cultural practices and how they mobilise alternative understandings of society and the State. She has published extensively on the question of Arab and Muslim Diasporas in Western contexts from the perspective of cultural identity, anti-racist politics and national belonging. She held Visting Fellowships at the EHESS in Paris, and at the ANU.

Karima also works on comparative multilingual literature in the Middle East and North Africa (Arabophone, Francophone and Anglophone) exploring how literature can mediate through particular aesthetics/poetics alternative imaginings of social and political realities and allow for other forms of theorising of the political. She was the Maghreb lead of a large European Research Council-funded project (2016-2021) ‘Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: For a New Approach to World Literature’, which offers a grounded, decolonial and comparative approach to the study of multilingual literatures from the perspectives of the Global South.

Karima co-won two grants with the ANU RSPH on communicating health messages to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia in the context of the bushfires and the pandemic using translational co-design and visual brokerage approaches. 

Current student projects

    Primary Ph.D. Supervisor:

  1. Khalid Al Bostanji: Turkish Smart Power in the Arabic Speaking Region after 2011.
  2. Zoe Davies: A Political History of Migration in the Arab States of the Gulf: Examining colonialism and coercion in an 'unexceptional’ region. 
  3. Salah Balkis: The Geopolitical Economy of Global Sport in the GCC: A Comparative Critical Study 
  4. Kyle Richards: Applying a worldview-based analytical model to the study of social integration (regarding minorities in Australia)

Member of the Supervisory Panel: 

  • Karina Tucunan: In The Search of The Indonesian Islamic Urban Heritage Identity: Translating and Projecting The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) Paradigm into Practices and Guidelines.
  • Christine Akello:  Factors that Influence Women’s Contribution to Board Roles in the United Arab Emirates



Past student projects

Completed Ph.D. supervision as Primary Supervisor: 

  • Bruno Levasseur (2009) Essai de lecture démocratique des représentations culturelles et politiques des grands ensembles français: une «archive» de la Cité des Quatre-Mille à La Courneuve (1962-2002).
  •  Chloe Gill-Khan (2012) Postcolonial European governance in question: a comparative case of British and French diasporic literary expressions.
  • Cristina Moreno Almeida (2015) Critical reflections on rap music in contemporary Morocco: urban youth culture between and beyond state's co-optation and dissent.
  • Natalie Abou Shakra (2015) Popular Dissident Music in the Context of Authoritarianism in Modern and Contemporary Egypt: A Case Study of the Nubian Egyptian Artist Mohammad Munir.
  • Nathaneal Mannone (2016) Managing Dissent: Censorship, Patronage, and 'Breathing Space' in Contemporary Tunisian Cultural Production.
  • Irene Fernandez Ramos (2017) Performing immobility: the individual-collective body and the representation of confined subjectivities in contemporary Palestinian theatre.
  • Cleo Geraldine Jay (2017) Performing change? Contemporary performance practices in Morocco. 
  • Sefik Huseyin (2018) The Spatial Experience of the Nation in Post-1980s Turkish Fiction: Between Modernity & Neo-Ottomanism.
  • July Blalack (2021) Travel Inside and Outside: Maghribi Resistance as a Literary Force.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  22 April 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers