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Sara Lei Sparre


Sara Lei Sparre

Overall research profile

My overall fields of interest stem from long-term research experience in Egypt/the Middle East and Denmark. My research concerns the anthropology of Islam, Christianity and interfaith relations; activism, youth and generations; ethnic/religious minorities, citizenship and the (welfare) state/municipalities; and ageing and care among ethnic minorites at the intersection families and the welfare state.

I was awarded my PhD in 2013 from Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. My PhD explores religiously-motivated civic engagement and care, political subjectivity and intergenerational relations among young volunteers in a large Muslim civil society organization before, throughout and after the 2011 Egyptian uprising. Addressing existential, subject-near processes as well as more structural societal dynamics, it combines anthropological perspectives and methodologies with discussions from sociology, philosophy, organizational studies and religious studies.

From 2013-2016 I worked as postdoc/assistant professor on the EU-funded project ‘Defining and Identifying Middle Eastern Christians in Europe’ (DIMECCE) at Cultural Encounters, Roskilde University. DIMECCE focused on migrant experiences and cultural encounters of Christian migrants and refugees of Iraqi and Egyptian origin in the UK, Denmark and Sweden. More specifically, my research concerns Iraqi Christian refugees’ experiences of minoritisation and (in)visibility through narratives of religious identification and Muslim-Christian relations; the importance of religious spaces, rituals and communities for memory and belonging in a migration context; and dynamics of local, national and transnational civic engagement within the context of the Danish welfare state.


Current research

I am currently working on the research project ‘Ageing Immigrants and Self-appointed Helpers Initiative’ (AISHA), headed by Professor MSO Mikkel Rytter. The project explores elderly care and family relations among Arab, Turkish and Pakistani immigrants with a particular focus on the option presented as §94 in the Service Act (Serviceloven), under which municipalities can pay a family member to take care of an elderly citizen in his or her own home. My research focus on considerations of and interventions by different municipal actors regarding care of minority elders in general, and the self-appointed helper arrangement in particular. More specifically, I explore how needs and responsibilities regarding aging, care and the family are negotiated in encounters (policies, case management and in person) between municipal actors, ethnic minority elders/families and their self-appointed helpers.

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