London to host sociological perspective of Mother Teresa study

Matters India

Gezim Alpion
London: In a run up to the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Rome on September 4, London is hosting a lecture on the sociological perspective of the study on ‘the saint of the gutters.’
On June 9, Dr Gezim Alpion will deliver a lecture entitled “How do you study a charismatic saint like Mother Teresa? A sociological perspective,” at the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in London.
The event hosted by Lirim Greçevci, Kosova’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James is expected to be attended by foreign diplomats in London, and representatives of the Apostolic Nunciature to Great Britain.
Speaking about the abstract of his talk to Matters India, Prof Alpion says, “In this lecture I plan to focus on the emergence of Albanian born Mother Teresa as a religious visionary in the wake of her departure from the Loreto order in the late 1940s.”
Concentrating mainly on the work of Max Weber, Alpion contends that Mother Teresa’s early career as an ‘independent’ missionary is an intriguing case study to look afresh at some traditional views on the revolutionary nature of charisma, the initial reception of the ‘natural’ and charismatic leader, mainly the ‘deviant type’, and the ‘proofs’ expected from and provided by the ‘bearer of charism/a’ in post-modernity.
Alpion concludes that ‘sociological imagination’ and interdisciplinary research are vital to explore the publicness of religion and engage further the academy with the life, work and legacy of an iconic religious humanitarian like Mother Teresa.
Backgrounder
Albanian-born Gëzim Alpion has a BA from Cairo University and a PhD from the University of Durham, UK. He lectured at the Universities of Huddersfield, Sheffield Hallam and Newman prior to his appointment at the University of Birmingham in 2002 where he is currently Sociology Admissions Director. In addition to his teaching on the sociology of success, ethnicity and film, Alpion offers supervision to doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars at his university as well as has served as PhD external examiner for well-known universities in India.
Alpion is currently External Examiner for the BA Sociology Degree at York St John University, and editorial board member for several peer-reviewed journals including ‘Celebrity Studies’ (Routledge). He has reviewed book proposals for academic publishers such as Palgrave Macmillan, Pearson Education, Polity Press, SAGE Publications and Routledge, and articles for scholarly journals such as ‘Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations’ (Routledge), ‘Celebrity Studies’, and ‘British Politics’ (Palgrave).
Alpion initially attracted the attention of the British media when, sponsored by Arts Council England, his controversial immigration plays – ‘Vouchers: A Tragedy’ and ‘If Only the Dead Could Listen’ – were successfully staged in several cities in the UK in 2002, 2006 and 2008. The plays were published in the UK and the US respectively in 2001 and 2008.
His acclaimed study ‘Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity?’ was first published by Routledge in London and New York in 2007, and by Routledge India in New Delhi in 2008, with the Italian edition issued in Rome by Salerno Editrice also in 2008. This monograph and the edited collections ‘Foreigner Complex: Essay and Fiction about Egypt’ (2002) and ‘Encounters with Civilizations: From Alexander the Great to Mother Teresa’, published in India in 2008, and the US in 2009 and 2011 by Transaction Publishers have been reviewed widely in academic journals and the media.
The author of a number of studies on the sociology of religion, nationalism, media, race and ethnicity that have appeared in edited collections and peer-reviewed journals in the UK, the US, Australia and Holland, Alpion is considered ‘the most authoritative English-language author’ on Mother Teresa. Over the last 10 years he has been invited to deliver over 50 keynote speeches, papers, lectures and talks at international conferences and renowned universities in 14 countries.
Alpion’s articles on British, Balkan, Middle Eastern and Indian politics, culture and identity have appeared in a number of international newspapers such as ‘The Guardian’ (London), ‘Hindustan Times’ (New Delhi), ‘The Middle East Times’ (Cairo), and ‘The Hürriyet Daily News’ (Istanbul). He is also interviewed, profiled and quoted regularly for his publications and specialisms by news agencies, television and radio networks, and newspapers in the UK and in over 25 countries.
Alpion has been lobbying since March 2013 for the construction of the Arbëri Road, an international highway that will improve significantly the infrastructure between Albania, Kosova, Macedonia and Bulgaria. He has also campaigned tirelessly over the last three years for the canonization of Mother Teresa.
Alpion and his wife Dashi, who is currently Careers Adviser at the University of Birmingham, have two children.

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