American University of Beirut

Professor Sari Hanafi first Arab to be elected President of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

In an unprecedented step since its establishment in 1949, the International Sociological Association (ISA) has elected an Arab president, AUB’s Professor of Sociology Dr. Sari Hanafi.

In a speech addressing the executive committee of the ISA, which is founded under the auspices of UNESCO and dedicated to scientific purposes in the field of Sociology and Social Sciences, Dr. Hanafi outlined his objectives for the next four years, pledging to encourage collaborations between North-South and South-South at the level of individuals, institutions, and research committees.

He also addressed the various structural inequalities and promised to develop new guidelines for ISA to ensure a proactive approach when dealing with increasing human rights violations. “We should indeed protect those who ‘commit sociology’,” said Hanafi, adding that many leaders in authoritarian as well as democratic states criticize or limit the input of sociology “We need to encourage and support the participation of sociologists in international congresses, especially from the Global South”.

Dr. Hanafi’s position refers to prominent sociologists who have the ability and vision to work on advancing sociological knowledge worldwide. Known for his integrative approach, he is determined to make ISA more diverse and pluralistic so that researchers from all countries can be actively involved through research papers and on the management level. He believes in putting research into action to benefit the community, as the “knowledge [today] is produced and not used,” particularly in the Arab World.

To that end, Dr. Hanafi will be launching in October the Institute’s Portal for Social Impact of Scientific Research Targeting Research in/on the Arab World (PSISR), through a Carnegie Corporation Grant and in collaboration with the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) at AUB. The portal of valuable resources to sociologists will aim to create a bridge between universities, policy makers, and the public at large. Dr. Hanafi is planning to develop a similar portal for all sociologists worldwide.

“Dr. Hanafi’s background and expertise will be real assets to ISA, and we are very proud of this achievement,” said Dr. Nadia El Cheikh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “We at AUB will continue to support faculty in their efforts to integrate and disseminate research that supports academic-community partnerships.”

Dr. Hanafi’s election is expected to have positive impact in Lebanon and the region and to push for more effective dialogue between different stakeholders. ”We see new and active actors, notably civil society,” said Dr. Hanafi. “A cognitive revolution is happening and critical issues are being discussed freely.”

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