Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Research student insight

Janan Aljabiri

 

Janan Aljabiri

 

Janan graduated from Baghdad University in Iraq in 1988 after studying political sciences. She then started her research in Kent University in September 2010, before moving to Bath in January 2011.

She has been conducting research as part of her interest to understand the role of civil society, and its relation to the state. Specifically, she is interested in further understanding religious Civil Society Organisations in Iraq, or Faith Based organisations; these are organisations that emerged after the war of 2003, inspired by the values and teachings of Islama, Shi’a in particular. They are active in providing social services, motivated by missionary aim to promote a better understanding of the Shi’a doctrine, they have, also, an active role in the new political settlement in Iraq post the war of 2003.

Religious Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Iraq

My interest in CSOs came from different sources. Firstly from my work with women’s civil society organisations focusing on Middle Eastern women in the last 14 years, and also from seeing that many new CSOs were established in Iraq after 2003 by different groups, religious and non-religious.

She wants to learn about CSOs in Iraq (as there has been an increase in numbers and size), and better understand the influence of their work as part of the wider community.

So far through my research I have discovered that the Shi’a CSOs have many roles; welfare provision, missionary roles, and they also have a role in reforming the state after the war of the 2003.

From this work Janan believes we can learn from the case of Iraq as the realistic influence of the Faith Based Organisations or CSOs’ welfare provision on the wider community.

It provides us with an insight of to which extent these organisations can contribute, beside the state, and the market, in fulfilment of human needs, and also, to show us whether these organisations have other objectives beyond welfare provision.

She is now in the writing up stage of her thesis - having submitted three empirical chapters, and commencing work on rewriting her literature review, country profile, and conceptual framework.

Studying in the UK

Janan has had to overcome a number of challenges while undertaking her PhD. Having not studied in the UK before, the academic culture differs to that of Iraq.

Social policy as a subject was a new area for me, as English is my second language, so this needed more work. Also on an objective level, Shi’a CSOs were new in Iraq, so to conduct research about these organisations was something relatively new.

Many of the organisations that Janan interviewed had security concern as to why she was studying Shi’a and not other organisations. Given that there is a sectarian conflict in Iraq, and the research is made in a western country, this raised some questions.

Studying at the University of Bath and Kent University

Janan has attended research skills training in both Kent and Bath to develop her skills in presentation, writing, reading and research management. While at the University of Bath she has also taken part in the weekly seminars for the PhD students.

I have presented a seminar, and I have also contributed in a symposium that was organised for the first time in 2012, by presenting a part of my research.

Janan has enjoyed working with her supervisors and has learned a lot from their recommendations. She has found they have assisted her tremendously in drawing the boundaries of the research, clarifying the focus, and going deeply beyond displaying information to analyse the information.

My supervisors have a very important role in keeping me on the right track, and my mentor, Dr Tara Bialy, was frequently available when I needed to talk to her about my research or other personal things.

Future plans

Once she has finished her PhD, Janan intends to apply her knowledge either to academia or civil society organisations.

Since I’m a chairperson of Kurdish and Middle Eastern women organisation, I am looking forward to link the work of our organisation with the university.

Further information

To find out more about Janan’s research, you can contact her by email: j.aljabiri@bath.ac.uk

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