Project Investigators

Dina Kiwan

Professor Dina Kiwan, Professor in Comparative Education, University of Birmingham (Principal Investigator)

Dina Kiwan is the Principal Investigator for Disability Under Siege. Her research focuses on citizenship and inclusion, and is interdisciplinary and comparative in scope. Her interests centre around sociological and politico-philosophical examinations of inclusive citizenship through the lens of education policy, naturalisation policy and migration policy, in particular in the context of pluralist/multicultural societies, and also societies in conflict.

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Dr Nazmi Al-Masri, Associate Professor of TEFL & Curriculum Development, Islamic University of Gaza (Co-Investigator)

Nazmi Abdel-Salam Al-Masri’s primary research interests are technologies in teaching and learning foreign languages, intercultural studies and multilingualism in context of emergencies, teacher training of foreign languages in English and Arabic, disability and inclusive education studies in the context of crises, and English language curriculum studies.

Anthony Downey

Professor Anthony Downey, Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East & North Africa, Birmingham School of Art (Co-Investigator)

Anthony Downey is currently affiliated with several research projects exploring the politics of global contemporary art practices, digital media and image production, knowledge production and visual culture, and how cultural practices relate to migration and human rights across the Global South. 

Rita Giacaman

Professor Rita Giacaman, Professor of Public Health, Birzeit University

Rita Giacaman is Professor of Public Health at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, West Bank, in occupied Palestinian territory. The founder of the Institute, Rita's current work focuses on the development of measures to assess psycho-social health which are relevant and appropriate for context, and ways in which interventions could generate active and positive resilience and resistance to ongoing war-like conditions, especially among youth.

Ruth Gilligan

Dr Ruth Gilligan, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, School of English, Drama, and Creative Studies, University of Birmingham (Co-Investigator)

Ruth Gilligan is a bestselling author and journalist and has published five novels to date. Her research interests include transcultural fiction and contemporary Irish fiction, with a particular emphasis on structure and form. She is also an ambassador for the global storytelling charity Narrative 4.

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Dr Maha Shuayb, Director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies

Maha Shuayb has been the Director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies since 2012 and also teaches part-time at the Lebanese American University. Her research focuses on the sociology and politics of education, particularly equity and equality in education and the implications of the politicisation of education, particularly on marginalised groups. Over the past five years, Maha has been occupied with the education response to the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. She has headed a number of research studies looking at access and quality of education for refugees and the bottlenecks.

Kate Woodcock

Dr Kate Woodcock, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham (Co-Investigator)

Kate Woodcock’s research aims to investigate and explain human behaviour by considering multiple potential influences at different levels of explanation. For example, people’s genes, their brain structure, their brain functioning, cognitive, physiological and emotional functioning can all affect people’s behaviour both individually and interactively. The environment in the broad sense of the term is also an extremely important factor to consider when aiming to explain human behaviour. Finally, Kate is extremely interested in ultimately being able to bring about a behavioural change when such a change is desired by the individual in question.

Deborah Youdell

Professor Deborah Youdell, Professor of Sociology of Education and Head of School of Education, University of Birmingham (Co-Investigator)

Deborah Youdell’s work is at the forefront of the developing field of biosocial education, which brings emerging knowledge in the new biological sciences together with social science accounts of education to generate new insights into learning and the learner. Her research concerns how inequalities are connected to subjectivities, everyday practices, pedagogy, institutional processes and policy.

Network Partners

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University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

The project is led by the University of Birmingham in the UK, a world top 100 university founded in 1900 as the first civic University in England. For over 100 years, innovative academic research at the University has influenced society and impacted people’s lives.

Lebanese American University

Centre for Lebanese Studies, Beirut, Lebanon

The project is led by the University of Birmingham in the UK, a world top 100 university founded in 1900 as the first civic University in England. For over 100 years, innovative academic research at the University has influenced society and impacted people’s lives.

Birzeit University

Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestine

Founded in 1972, Birzeit University is a leading educational institution and an intellectual hub that attracts top students and faculty, offering a wide range of academic programmes and professional development opportunities. It is an academic powerhouse with a clear focus on excellence that has secured it national and international recognition unparalleled with other established institutions. Birzeit University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the service of the country and the community. 

Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK

With around 24,000 students from 80 countries, Birmingham City University is a large and diverse place to study. The University has an enviable reputation for providing quality, student-focused education in a professional and friendly environment. Its superb courses, state-of-the-art facilities, first-rate staff and focus on practical skills and professional relevance is producing some of the country’s most employable graduates.

Islamic University of Gaza

Islamic University of Gaza, Gaza, Palestine

The Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) is an independent academic institution supervised by the Ministry of Higher Education. IUG provides its students with an academic environment that adheres to Islamic principles as well as Palestinian traditions and customs. It is an academic institution that strives to raise the educational, cultural and civilization levels in the Palestinian society, to keep up with current trends in higher education and technology advancements, to encourage scientific research, and to contribute in building future generations and developing the society in a framework of Islamic values.

Action on Armed Violence

Action on Armed Violence, London, UK

Action on Armed Violence is a charity which seeks to reduce the impact of armed violence through monitoring and research of the causes and consequences of weapon-based violence. They have a specific focus on the impact of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas and have been running a global monitor of explosive violence since October 2010. 

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Al Ma'Mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem

Al-Ma’mal is a non-profit organisation founded to promote, instigate, disseminate and create art. Founded in 1997, Al-Ma’mal serves as an advocate for contemporary art and a catalyst for the realization of art projects in Jerusalem.

A M Qattan Foundation

A M Qattan Foundation, UK & Palestine

The A M Qattan Foundation (AMQF) is an independent, not-for-profit developmental organisation working in the fields of culture and education, with a particular focus on children, teachers and young artists. The Foundation is an independent institution, working in the knowledge and creativity sectors, using an integrative approach and targeting a variety of social groups, particularly children, teachers and young artists. It seeks to empower free individuals within a dynamic Palestinian and Arab culture, through a long-term, participatory developmental ethos. This is achieved through programmes that foster critical thinking, research, creativity and the production of knowledge, and aim to provide inspiring models of giving, transparency and excellence.


Edraak, Jordan

Edraak is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, that is an initiative of the Queen Rania Foundation (QRF). QRF is determined to ensure that the Arab world is at the forefront of educational innovation. As such, QRF has capitalised on regional Arab talent to leverage technology developed by the Harvard-MIT consortium, edX, to create the first non-profit Arabic MOOC platform. The new MOOC platform will present the Arab world with unique and vital opportunities that can be part of a necessary revolution in education and learning.

Tammey For Youth Development, Jordan

Tammey was founded in 2010 by a diverse team with over 20 years of experience in the field of youth development, grew into a passionate community committed to genuine development, and now runs through a core strategic management team in addition to affiliate experts around the world.

Advisory Board

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Ibrahim Abdullah - Chair

Disability Advisor, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) - Lebanon

Ola Abu Al Ghaib

Ola Abu Al Ghaib

Head of the Technical Secretariat, United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UNPRPD MPTF) - Occupied Palestinian Territories

Hadeel Abu Soufeh

Hadeel Abu Soufeh

Disability Activist and Consultant - Jordan

Laila Atshan photo

Leila Atshan

Consultant, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) - West Bank

Dr Angharad Beckett photo

Dr Angharad Beckett

Co-Director, Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds - UK

Professor Matthew Broome

Professor Matthew Broome

Director of the Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham - UK

Professor Abir Hamdar

Professor Abir Hamdar

Deputy Director of Research (Impact), School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University - UK

Naim Kabaja

Naim Kabaja

Director, Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children - Gaza

Julia McGeown photo

Julia McGeown

Education Technical Advisor, Humanity & Inclusion at Global Partnerships for Education - UK

Professor Jasbir Puar photo

Professor Jasbir Puar

Graduate Director, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University - USA

Project Researchers

Vera Kubenz

Vera Kubenz, Research Fellow, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Vera Kubenz is a researcher working on the UN PRPD Analytical Framework for a disability-inclusive recovery from COVID-19. Her background is in sociology, with a particular focus on critical disability studies, media and cultural studies, and gender and queer studies. She is particularly interested in how disabled and gender identities are conceptualised, and how discourses and language construct concepts that either uphold or challenge the status quo. She is a strong advocate of the social model of disability. She aims to take an intersectional approach in all her work and to recognise the importance of lived experience.

PhD Students

Bobby Beaumont, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Research Topic: "Childhood in the Camps – An ethnographic Exploration of Play and Circus in Refugee Temporary Settlements." Bobby is a third year PhD student. His research is an ethnographic collaboration with The Flying Seagull Project. He seeks out a pedagogy of the circus and asks, what can a pedagogy founded on imminence, playfulness, affect, and fun tell us about experiences of childhood in refugee camps.

Giada Constantini, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Research Topic: "Teachers' understanding of disability within the Palestinian context." Giada Costantini is a first year PhD student in the School of Education in the project Disability Under Siege. Her research is focused on the teachers' understanding of disability within the Palestinian sociopolitical context. She holds an MA degree in International Education and Development from the University of Sussex which investigated The Impact of Family Wealth on Students' learning outcomes in Jordan.

Maram Theodory

Maram Theodory, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Research Topic: "How to best improve education and life chances for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. " Maram is a first year PhD student in the Disability Under Siege project. Her doctoral research is focused on the socio-political and cultural factors that contribute to define and limit children with SEND across the region. She holds a master’s degree in Special and Inclusive Education from the University of Nottingham where her research investigated the barriers of inclusive education in Private Schools in Palestine.