Berit Synnøve Thorbjørnsrud

Professor - Middle East Studies
Image of Berit Synnøve Thorbjørnsrud
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22858196
Mobile phone +4740484837
Room 367 PAM
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 P. A. Munchs hus 0371 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1010 Blindern 0315 OSLO

Ongoing Project:

The Unknown Story: Christians in The Arabian Peninsula

«There are two stories of Middle Eastern Christianity”, according to Anglican bishop Michael Lewis, but “one of them is barely known” (2016).  While it is generally well known  that Christianity risks becoming “a rarity, a memory, or a theme-park tourist attraction” in countries like Iraq, Syria, Israel/Palestine,  few, apart from those directly involved, seem aware of the development in the Arabian Peninsula, where the numbers of worshippers are “astonishing”.

This project is about this other, largely unknown, story about Christians in the Arabian Peninsula. While most recent studies are about Christians migrating from the Middle East and the reasons why, this is a study on Christians migrating to the Middle East and how they are working to reestablish Christianity as a living faith on what has been considered uniquely Islamic territory for more than a thousand years.

Academic Interests

I have a multidisciplinary background with specialization in social anthropology, history of religion and Egyptology. My research has mainly focused on Christian minority groups in the Middle East and in Norway. Presently I’m doing a study on the re-establishment of Christianity in the Arabian Peninsula. Previously I have done studies on the revival in the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt; Coptic gender roles; Coptic concepts of the body and their use of body changing techniques. In Norway I have done studies on the Eastern Orthodox Church: nationalism and universalism in the diaspora; religious leaders and power; religion and material culture, etc. Among other things I have also worked on the construction of Muslim women in Norwegian/Western popular literature.

Teaching and Tutoring 

Ongoing research

Where Christianity flourishes? The ’new Christians’ in the Arabian Peninsula 

Higher Education and Employment History

I joined the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages as an Associate Professor in 2002.  From 2000-2002, I worked as an Associate professor at Development studies, Oslo University College. From 1992-99, I was a fellow at Middle East Studies.

My degree is in social anthropology (1989), with the dissertation: Girls of Messiah: Revival in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and my is in history of religion (1989) with the dissertation Controlling the Body to Liberate the Soul: towards an Analysis of the Coptic Orthodox Concept of the Body (University of Oslo).

I have been responsible for training students for the labor market, and I have designed, taught and evaluated courses for public servants in cross cultural communications. 


Tags: Middle East, History of Religions, Islam, Gender Studies, CIMS
Published Sep. 29, 2008 1:13 PM - Last modified May 4, 2021 5:23 PM