Sofya Shahab

Sofya Shahab

Research Fellow

Sofya is an IDS Research Fellow in Power and Popular Politics and an AHRC/DCMS Policy Fellow in International Cultural Heritage Protection. She holds a PhD from Deakin University, Melbourne and has a background in in Cultural Anthropology and Critical Heritage Studies.

Working alongside young people and ethno-religious minorities, her research employs anthropological approaches to understand the lived experiences of conflict, violence, migration and oppression in the Middle East and Central Asia, predominantly Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Afghanistan. This has involved exploring different forms and experiences of violence and the impacts and implications this has on targeted populations – as well as possibilities for peace – particularly in relation to cultural heritage.

Through this research, she has contributed to understandings of how social and physical landscapes are created and utilised in campaigns of terror and resistance, the role of emotion in political conflicts and the consequences this has for people’s sense of place, belonging and security. Expanding on this, as the PI on the AHRC network grant ‘Embodying Peace, Navigating Violence’, she is accompanying researchers in Iraq to produce auto-ethnographies investigating the residual affects of violence against places and what it would mean for political processes and peacebuilding initiatives if we approached peace as a bodily practice.

Sofya also has a further 10 years of experience working across the humanitarian/development nexus specialising in the project design, monitoring and evaluation of programmes most directly related to livelihoods, PSS, youth agency and women’s empowerment in the MENA region.


Sofya co-convenes with Gauthier Marchais the MA module Governance of Violence Conflict.



Youth employment and politics

Over 40 percent of global populations are under 25 yet young people cannot secure work and increasingly face a crisis of citizenship. Youth Employment and Politics at IDS builds on decades of research to develop knowledge and evidence that contributes to effective interventions that supports,...


Afghanistan Strategic Learning Initiative (ASLI)

As a part of the Afghanistan Strategic Learning Initiative, IDS led a workshop exploring needs and vulnerability in Afghanistan. Leveraging the collective knowledge and experience of leading global think tanks working on Afghanistan and aid issues, the resulting report will be based on analysis...


Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID)

The Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID) provides research evidence and delivers practical programmes which aim to redress the impact of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, tackle poverty and exclusion, and promote people’s wellbeing and...



New workbook shares archiving practices vital for preserving community heritage

In a context were religious minorities and communities are at risk of violent and systematic targeting or climate change impact, the IDS-led Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID) programme is working with young people in the Middle East to document and archive their...

James Baker

12 November 2021



Needs and Vulnerability in Afghanistan

This paper draws on a series of events under the Afghanistan Strategic Learning Initiative (ASLI). Between December 2021 and February 2022, ASLI convened four workshops led by each of the partner organisations in turn, which brought together senior leaders, decision-makers, experts, researchers...

24 May 2022


Preserving Communities’ Heritage: A Workbook for Heritage Capturers

This is a practical workbook to guide local communities and heritage gatherers through the process of capturing and storing their heritage for future generations. Through initiatives with the British Academy and the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID), the...

James Baker & 2 others

11 November 2021

Sofya Shahab’s recent work