Carool Kersten

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Carool Kersten (Haelen, 28 June 1964) is a historian of Islam and the author and editor of nine books. Trained as an Arabist, Southeast Asianist and scholar of religion, he currently works as a Reader in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World at King's College London, teaching in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, as well as at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, where was also acting head of department (2017). In his research he focuses on the contemporary Muslim world, in particular intellectual history and current developments in both regional and global contexts. In addition to that, he is interested in Southeast Asian history and Islam, and in developments in the Middle East.


Carool Kersten (Haelen, The Netherlands, 28 June 1964) studied Arabic Language and Culture at the then still existing Institute for the Study of the Languages and Cultures of the Middle East at the Catholic University Nijmegen in the Netherlands (now Radboud University Nijmegen), specializing in modern Middle East Studies and Islamic Studies, with minors in International Law, International Relations and Indonesian. In 1987, he earned the academic title of doctorandus (equivalent of an MA) in Arabic and Islamic Studies with distinction, on the basis of a dissertation on the theory and practice of the Islamic law of treaties. After graduation he went to Egypt, where he attended the International Language Institute in Cairo. In 1988, he was admitted as a Sworn Translator by the Netherlands District Court in Arnhem. He returned to Nijmegen during a sabbatical (1995-1996) to do graduate work in philosophy. Taking another sabbatical year in 2001, he studied at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he obtained a Certificate in Thai and Southeast Asian Studies. In 2005, he moved to England in order to conduct postgraduate research at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and was awarded a PhD in the Study of Religions in 2009. In his thesis, written under the supervision of Professor Christopher Shackle and entitled 'Occupants of the Third Space: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam', he dealt with the work of three contemporary Muslim scholars, (Nurcholish Madjid, Hasan Hanafi, Mohammed Arkoun). It has since been published as Cosmopolitans and Heretics by Hurst and Oxford University Press


Except for a sabbatical year (1995–96), from 1988 until 2000, Carool Kersten worked for the Dutch construction and engineering company Ballast Nedam Group. In 1989 he was transferred to Saudi Arabia to provide support for the company's operations in the Middle East, where he held a number of staff and project positions, including that of personnel and general services manager for the company's Middle East operations (1996–2000). From 2002 until 2007, he taught Asian history and religions at the Center for International and Graduate Studies (now known as the Institute of South East Asian Studies, SEAIGS) of Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was while conducting his postgraduate studies in London that he was recruited and appointed lecturer in the Study of Islam & the Muslim World at King's College London, where he has been since September 2007. He became a Research Associate at the Centre for South East Asian Studies (CSEAS) at (SOAS) in 2012, and at the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the University of Primorska in Koper (Slovenia) in 2014, where he participates in the research project "Between Politics and Ethics", directed by Professor Lenart Škof.

Other activities[edit]

Carool Kersten is a founding member of the British Association for Islamic Studies, serving on both its council and advisory board. He is also the founding editor of the book series Contemporary Thought in the Islamic World. published by Routledge. In addition, he serves on the editorial or advisory boards of the Springer series Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures and of the following journals: Sociology of Islam, Journal of International and Global Studies, the Journal of Contemporary Islam in Indonesia and Journal of Dialogue Studies. in 2006,he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and admitted as a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists in 2008. Since 2011, he has been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).


Kersten also has contributed almost eighty chapters, articles and reviews to edited volumes and academic journals. In addition, he writes a blog on alternative Islamic discourses under the title Critical Muslims, and used to contribute book and music reviews for the '' website.

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