The British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS) is a learned society and professional organisation focused on enhancing research and teaching about Islam and Muslim cultures and societies in UK higher education. The association provides a forum for academic exchange for scholars with an interest in any aspect of Islam and the Muslim world (including non-Muslim majority societies), and acts as an umbrella organisation for members working in a wide range of disciplines and geographical interest areas. BRAIS works with research councils and other bodies to represent the interests of Islamic Studies on research matters in UK higher education, and with the Higher Education Academy to enhance teaching and learning in Islamic Studies. It also maintains and encourages relationships with providers of HE-level Islamic Studies outside of publicly-funded UK higher education.
The British Association for Islamic Studies brings together scholars across disciplines and subject areas, primarily in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. This includes, but is not limited to: Religious Studies, Theology, Language Studies and Linguistics, History, Literature and Textual Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Philosophy, Art, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Economics, Education, International Relations, Law, Finance, Management and Business Studies, Politics, Anthropology, Sociology and interdisciplinary Area Studies programmes, for example those associated with Middle East or South Asian Studies. In addition to these two geographical areas, many BRAIS members have an interest in Islam and Muslim life in the UK and other non-Muslim majority societies, or in other parts of the Muslim world (e.g. Africa or Southeast Asia).
The main objectives of the association are:
- to encourage and enhance scholarly exchange, co-operation and output by hosting a regular conference for Islamic Studies academics;
- to host Special Interest Groups and Research Networks that will meet both alongside the conference and separately to focus on topics of specific interest to members (e.g. Islamic Law, Muslims in Britain, Islamic Business and related areas, Islamic Education);
- to support the early career development of PhD students by sponsoring conference bursaries, essay competitions and other activity;
- to facilitate exchange and partnerships between publicly-funded Higher Education Institutions and private providers of HE-level Islamic Studies;
- to maintain an online presence and resource centre for Islamic Studies, including publishing a newsletter and work in progress bulletin, hosting a variety of resources for teaching and research, and encouraging online exchange through mailing lists and other fora.