Lana Sirri’s academic activism

Lana Sirri is an assistant professor in gender and religion at FASoS. After completing her BA at Tel Aviv University, she worked as women’s project coordinator at the Arab-Jewish community centre in Yaffa. After a few years of experience in women empowerment, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in gender studies in Berlin, followed by a PhD.

In the competitive academic world, she started looking for academic positions after her PhD. Lana was invited for interviews at Utrecht University and at Maastricht University. When I ask her why she eventually chose Maastricht, her answer was very clear: “At UU it was a 4-year research position. At UM, I was offered a tenure-track position. When you get such opportunity, especially as a woman of colour, you jump on it.” Lana’s research interests are Islamic feminism, Islam, gender, and sexuality.

Lana’s activist spirit is very lively. She is a founding member of the Berlin Muslim feminist and the Black-PoC academic network in Germany. In the Netherlands, she collaborated with the queer Muslim organisation Maruf based in Amsterdam. She sees her activist and academic engagements as interdependent and actually, these two (separate) spheres complement each other.

Lana tells me she has been put in boxes her entire life. “In Israel, I was “the Palestinian”. In Germany, I became “the Muslim woman”. And in the Netherlands, I cannot break free from “the Brown Muslim woman” box”.

Lana lives in Berlin and Maastricht. “Maastricht is quite homogeneous and conservative, so setting up a Muslim feminist network here would be hard. In this sense, Berlin is more diverse. But slowly I’m building up my network in the Netherlands, together with people involved in Maruf”.

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