Core Group

The project consists of a Core Group that brings together peace and conflict scholars with scholars of religious studies in general and with expertise on Islam in particular. The Core Group members all bring specific knowledge and expertise to the project, and have all conducted research on and published extensively on issues relevant to this project. Together, they also have rich and broad experiences of different research methods, ranging from statistical analysis to ethnographical fieldwork, which we will utilise in this project. The Core Group consists of:

Professor Isak Svensson (project leader)

Project leader Isak Svensson is a Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University and former Director of Research at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is a leading specialist in conflict resolution, with an established scholarly record in the study of religious dimensions of armed conflicts and mediation research. In his book Ending Holy Wars he explores how different religious dimensions affect possibilities for conflict resolution by conducting an analysis of religious identities and religious dimensions of conflict issues. Svensson has conducted both quantitative and qualitative work and published in high-ranking peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of Peace Research, European Journal of International Relations, and Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Professor Mark Juergensmeyer

Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology and Affiliate Professor of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies. He is a world-leading academic expert on religious violence and the rise of religious activism around the world. He has published more than three hundred articles and twenty books. His award-winning book, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, is a major comparative work on religious violence, and is based on interviews with activists that illuminate their worldviews. He has received numerous fellowships and awards and since the events of 9/11 he has been a frequent commentator in international news media, including CNN and BBC.

Associate Professor Desirée Nilsson

Desirée Nilsson is an Associate Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. She has considerable expertise on multiparty conflicts and conflict resolution, with a focus on rebel movement fragmentation, inter-rebel violence, spoilers in peace processes, and the inclusion and exclusion of rebel factions in peace settlements. She has experience using statistical methods as well as comparative case study methods and her research appears in influential journals such as Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and International Interactions. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Peace Research and Conflict Management and Peace Science.

Assistant Professor Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs is Head of Research at the Folke Bernadotte Academy since 1 September 2015, and Senior Researcher with the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala. She has carried out research and published on transitions from armed groups to political parties, post-war democratisation, and election-related violence. She has significant experience of comparative case study methods and conducting interviews and fieldwork. Her research is published in several high-ranking peer-reviewed journals, such as Democratization, International Peacekeeping, and Review of International Studies. 

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Emin poljarevic (SINCE 2018)

Emin Poljarevic is Associate Professor, Sociology of Religion, at Uppsala University. His PhD thesis from 2012 (EUI) examined a range of motivations behind mobilisation of young Muslim Brotherhood activists in Egypt right before the popular uprisings 2011. Two consecutive research grants (2013-2014 and 2015-2017) allowed him to expand his research scope by studying religious activism within various strands of Salafism at the University of Edinburgh and Qatar University. In addition to his interests in studying the mobilisation dynamics within Islamism and Salafism, his research focuses on investigation of the role of religion and, in particular, theology in violence oriented Muslim activism.

Dr. mona kanwal sheikh (SINCE 2017)

Mona Kanwal Sheikh is Research Coordinator and Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Her main area of expertise is militant movements in Pakistan, especially the movements related to the Pakistani Taliban. Her research focuses on religious justifications of, and mobilisation to, violence. Sheikh's research also focuses on the dynamics behind transnational jihad, particularly the dynamics driving al-Qaeda and the Islamic State movement. Theoretically, Sheikh has contributed to the development of a sociotheological approach to religious violence and the securitization theory's conceptualisation of religion.


Ebrahim Moosa is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Department of History at University of Notre Dame. He is a leading international authority on Islamic theology and history. His research interests span both classical and modern Islamic thought with a special focus on Islamic law, history, ethics and theology. Moosa is Co-Director of Contending Modernities, a global research and education initiative examining the interaction among Catholic, Muslim, and other religious and secular forces in the world. He is the author of a large number of peer-reviewed articles and books including The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring, and Islam in the Modern World.