Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies

Junior Council

Every junior NISIS member is member of the Junior Research Council. The Junior Research Council selects at least two PhD candidates or research master students, who advise the NISIS board in its capacity of Education Committee. The Council discusses all matters relevant for junior NISIS members. The Council meets yearly, preferably during one of the activities of the NISIS Training Program. The Junior Research Council advices the NISIS board on issues concerning the NISIS Training Program. Please contact one of the representatives if you have ideas or suggestions for improvement.

The representatives of the Junior research council are:


Luca Bruls
Research Master Student
Leiden University

I am currently enrolled as a Research Master student in area studies with a specialization in Middle Eastern studies at Leiden University. My disciplinal background is in cultural anthropology and Arabic language and culture. I mostly rely on anthropological methods and theory, but I enjoy bridging the gaps between social sciences and humanities to study subjects such as rituals, language and narratives. Currently, I am exploring the relevance sound can have in understanding everyday themes such as religion and affect. For my master thesis I am planning to take a sonic ethnographic approach to study urban environments and use its methods and theory to uncover sonic ruptures and changing sonic environments.

As a member of the Junior Research Council I seek to engage with and learn from colleagues in the field. I hope that working with people from various disciplinary and cultural backgrounds can give me new insights into understanding and developing Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. Moreover, I aim to be involved in discussions about education and improve its qualities.

Alon Dar
PhD candidate
Leiden University

I am a third year PhD candidate on the “Embedding Conquest: Naturalising Muslim Rule in the Early Islamic Empire (600-1000)” ( My research focus on social and political structures in the Umayyad period. More specifically, I am interested in the role provincial governors played in political structure of the Umayyad caliphate, and what forms of authority and communication they have used with various groups and individuals within this system.

As a member of NISIS Junior Council, I will seek to establish and maintain a live and supportive scholarly community, that will help young scholars to advance their career. In addition, I believe that our academic research should be accessible for the broad public, and aim to bridge the gap between academia and society.

Arash Ghajarjazi
PhD candidate
Utrecht University

I am a PhD candidate at the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in Utrecht University. My research focuses on the co-transformation of science and religion in 19th century Iran and is part of Prof. Christian Lange’s ERC-funded research project into the cultural life of the senses in Islamic cultures. As a junior researcher in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, I am very much interested in exploring creative methodologies with which I can connect to historical anthropology, philology, media and cultural studies and art history.

I have gone through a meandering academic path to arrive at this point in my research. After I had finished my first line of education in science in Iran, in the field of engineering and computational mathematics, I (re)started my education in the humanities and I completed a second BA in English Philology in Poland. In this highly interdisciplinary program, I was given the chance to explore a variety of courses in the humanities (on both MA and BA levels) ranging from film studies and philosophy to anthropology and law. So in a way, I started off my education in the humanities as an interdisciplinary student and never specialised in any particular field.  I continued this penchant for being in between fields well into my MA, which I completed in Utrecht University in the RMA program Media and Cultural Studies. By the end of this program, I finally found myself seriously interested in the history of media and religion, in as broad a sense as you could possibly imagine. In my current research, I am particularly looking into the ways in which the scientific developments in the 19th century—which brought along themselves a range of new media technologies such as the printing press, photography and telegraphy—mingled with and transformed the then religious ecology in Iran. I am fascinated by how much a radical interdisciplinary approach to research in this field can reveal unheard-of stories and unthinkable concepts.