The board of the NSMES is elected for a three year period at the Nordic Conference which takes place every third year.

The current board is:

Mark Sedgwick is professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Department of the Study of Religion in the School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University in Denmark. He is responsible for the program in Arab and islamic Studies and the Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit. His research interests are in Sufism, global Islam, and terrorism. His research covers both the Arab world, especially Egypt, where he lived for twenty years, and the West.
  • Charlotte Lysa (Norway): Vice-chair
Charlotte Lysa is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. Her main focus is refugee protection in Saudi Arabia. Her PhD is from the University of Oslo, with research focussing on women issues and social change in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
  • Olof Heilo (Sweden): Secretary

Olof Heilo is deputy director of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. He wrote his PhD in Byzantine and Early Islamic history at the University of Vienna and has taught Modern and Middle Eastern history at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University. His main focus is on conceptions of history and identity between Europe and the Middle East.

  • Ulla Prien (Denmark): Treasurer
Ulla Prien is associate teaching professor in Arab at Middle-Eastern Studies at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Her interests are Arabic language contemporary Arabic literature and the development of the teaching of Arabic, especially Communicative Arabic. She is currently the local responsible for the development of the student – and staff exchange programs to the Arabic countries.
Pekka Tuominen has PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology and is currently Post-Doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. His research deals with the sociocultural dimensions of urban transformation in Istanbul and he has recently initiated a multidisciplinary research project in the stigmatised Kontula district of Helsinki, studying the urban transformation of the area and examining new possibilities of participatory urban culture connecting its neighbourhoods.

Elena Chiti is an Associate Professor at the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish Studies, at Stockholm University, which she joined after a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oslo. She is a cultural historian specializing in Egypt, interested in public morals and identity-making through popular culture.


  • Laura Wickström (Finland)

Laura Wickström is a PhD-Candidate and currently specializes in Islam and ecology within the Department of Comparative Religion at Åbo Akademi University. She has a master’s degree in public international law with specialization in human rights law as well. She worked as research-coordinator at the Finnish Institute in the Middle East in Lebanon 2015-2016.

  • Magnus Halsnes (Norway)

Magnus Halsnes is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Bergen. His research focuses on bordering processes, nomadism, infrastructure and cartography in the Syrian Desert during the Mandate period.

Thorir Jonsson Hraundal is a PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of Bergen, and currently a lecturer and director of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Iceland. His research is focused on medieval Arabic sources on the eastwards expansion of Scandinavians during the Viking age.

Chairs of the NSMES

The chairs of the NSMES have been:

  • Heikki Palva (Helsinki) 1989-1992
  • Tryggve Kronholm (Uppsala) 1992-1998
  • Bjørn Olav Utvik (Oslo) 1998-2007
  • Jakob Skovgaad-Petersen (Copenhagen) 2007-11
  • Leif Stenberg (Lund) 2011-19
  • Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus) 2019-


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