syed ali


I am a sociologist working at Long Island University--Brooklyn since 2003.  My research interests are broadly focused on issues surrounding migration and immigrant assimilation, and ethnicity and religion.  I conducted ethnographic research among Muslims in Hyderabad, India, South Asians in the US, and migrants in Dubai.  I received two Fulbrights to do these projects -- one in 1997 to go to Hyderabad, and one in 2006 for Dubai.

Out of the Dubai research, I wrote a book called Dubai: Gilded Cage, which came out in 2010 with Yale University Press.  I highly recommend it.  Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s coming out of a university press.  My editor made readability a prerequisite.  She wasn’t going to publish it otherwise.  So you can read it, enjoy it, and learn stuff in the process.  A win-win situation.  And it makes for the perfect holiday gift.

I have two current research projects. One looks at Muslims growing up in the US and Europe. The first phase of this project is a paper I’m working on with Tineke Fokkema called “The importance of peers: assimilation patterns among second-generation Turkish immigrants in Western Europe.” This project came out of a lengthy review I wrote in the Fall 2010 issue of the sociology magazine, Contexts, of Christopher Caldwell’s book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. The book is a clarion call to be afraid, be very afraid of the Moslems that are breeding like rabbits to take over Europe, and soon, to take over America. The book sucks, but reviewers loved it because he’s a journalist who writes clearly and cites some surveys and statistics and he’s not a complete loon so they think he must be a serious and fair observer and commentator. I beg to differ. Caldwell makes the point these people have not, and actually cannot assimilate. Down the road a bit I will write a book on Muslims in the West that will take him and his ilk to task.

The second project is a book I’m finishing up with Douglas Hartmann called “Natives and Foreigners.” It’s a quasi-textbook on migration and multiculturalism for Routledge Press. It will be short and very readable. And enjoyable. Buy it for your mom. It should be out sometime in fall or winter 2015.

Most importantly, I am psyched to be the new co-editor of Contexts Magazine with the University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen starting in August 2014.  It is by far the best sociology publication in the US (and the world!) as everything in there is topnotch, but more importantly, actually readable.  Contexts is a place for nonsociologists to learn about sociology in an approachable way.  This means well-written short pieces with no jargon and no long, deathly boring and too often pointless literature reviews citing everyone under the sun.  Just interesting, straightforwardly written sociological stories that are in no way dumbed down but are still highly rigorous and of the highest quality.  I think all academics should write in that manner.  Visit our website and read our stuff? Did you like it? Yes you did. Are you a sociologist or a writer with a sociological bent with an interesting analytical piece you’re dying to share with us? We would love for you to write for us.  Drop us a line and we’ll talk.

If the urge strikes, you can reach me at



associate Professor, Sociology

Long Island University

Brooklyn, NY

Dubai: Gilded Cage, Yale University Press, 2010. (For UK, click here.)