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Carool Kersten

Dr Carool Kersten

Carool KerstenSenior Lecturer in the Study of Islam & the Muslim World

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1795
Address: Dept of Theology & Religious Studies
King's College London
Room 3.31, Virginia Woolf Building,
22 Kingsway



Carool Kersten is Senior Lecturer in the study of Islam and the Muslim World, and also a research associate at the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Before coming to King’s in 2007, Dr Kersten served on the faculty of the Center for Graduate and International Studies (now the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies) at Payap University and at Payap International College in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At the same time, he acted as academic director in Thaiand for Lexia International, a US-based study-abroad programme.  He has also been a Research Affliate of the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at the National University of Singapore, an Associate Lecturer with the Open University of the UK, and a Guest Lecturer at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.  Prior to his academic career, Dr Kersten worked for more than ten years in the Middle East.

Carool Kersten obtained his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and received a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) from King’s College London. He also has an MA (with distinction) in Arabic Language and Culture from Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) and a Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies from Payap University (Thailand). In addition, he has done graduate work in philosophy.

As a founding member of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS), Dr Kersten serves on the BRAIS Council and its Advisory Board. He also is the founding editor of the book series Contemporary Thought in the Islamic World for Ashgate Publishing.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Intellectual history of the modern and contemporary Muslim world
  • Political Islam
  • History of Islam in Southeast Asia
  • Islam in global and interregional contexts
  • Theory and Method in the Study of Religions

Carool Kersten’s intellectual-historical research focuses on contemporary aspects of the Islamic tradition. He has written about cosmopolitanism, cultural hybridity and contemporary Muslim intellectuals; heresy and atheism in Islam; the influence of Arab intellectuals, Islamic post-traditionalism and religious pluralism in Indonesia. Currently, he is investigating antifoundationalist influences on contemporary Muslim thinking, and completing a monograph on selected themes in contemporary Islamic thought commissioned by Routledge. He is also involved in a new initiative on world philosophies developed by the Department of Religions and Philosophies at SOAS.

Dr Kersten has also written extensively on Southeast Asia, including two monographs on Islam in Indonesia, and two annotated translations of historical travel accounts.

As part of his work on political Islam, he has co-edited an essay collection and compiled a three-volume anthology on the Caliphate and Islamic statehood. In addition, he has collaborated in an interdisciplinary research project of the University of Primorska in Slovenia, dealing with politics, ethics, hospitality and peace studies.

A number of students have successfully completed their PhDs under Dr Kersten’s supervision. Current PhD candidates are working on projects dealing with contemporary Islam in relation to political thought, religious leadership, international relations, and Islamic activism in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He welcomes further proposals from prospective students interested in pursuing research on the contemporary Muslim world, especially projects dealing with intellectual history and modern thought in the Arabic-speaking world and Southeast Asia.

Selected publications

  • Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • Demystifying the Caliphate: Historical Memory and Contemporary Contexts (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2013) – co-editor
  • Alternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority (Ashgate, 2013) – co-editor
  • The Caliphateand islamic Statehood. 3 vols. (Gerlach Press, 2015)
  • Islam in Indonesia: The Contest for Society, Ideas and Values (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • A History of Islam in Indonesia (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming)
  • Poesis of Peace (Ashgate, forthcoming) – co-editor

For a complete list of publications, please see Carool's full research profile.


In 2016-17. Dr Kersten will offer the following modules:


  • 5AAT2003 5AAT2003 Modern Islam I: History & Politics
  • 6AAT3048 Contemporary Thought in the Muslim World


  • 7AATC707 Intellectual History of the Contemporary Muslim World
  • 7AATC708 Ethnic and Religious Pluralism in Southeast Asia

Public engagement

Carool Kersten is a regular media commentator on current affairs and developments in the Muslim world. In recognition of these contributions, he was given the King’s Award for Media Personality of the Year 2015. He makes frequently appearances on Aljazeera and has also been interviewed by the BBC, Channel 4, Islam Channel, TV and radio stations from  Australia, Brasil, China, Colombia, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States, as well as print media and wire services, including Associated Press, Financial Times, The Independent, New York Times, Time Magazine, The Sunday Times, The Times of London, and Le Point. In addition he is a consultant for the BBC for the development of online content on subjects related to Islam.

Dr Kersten has taken part in briefings, seminars and discussions at Chatham House, the UK Defence Academy and British Armed Forces, the House of Commons and House of Lords, the European Parliament, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia and the Netherlands, the Frontline Club, the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and The World Forum for Muslim Democrats in Malaysia.

Carool Kersten maintains a blog called Critical Muslims.












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