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Syed Ali

Syed Ali

Associate Professor of Sociology

B.A., Binghamton University (SUNY)M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia


Syed Ali grew up in New York City and has been teaching at LIU Brooklyn since 2003. His courses include introductory sociology, sociological theory, migration and Muslim societies.

Professor Ali is the recipient of two Fulbright fellowships: one in 1997-1998 to conduct research in India and one in 2006 to conduct research in Dubai. He has engaged in ethnographic research among Muslims in Hyderabad, India; among Muslims and South Asians in New York City; and most recently, among foreign expatriate workers in Dubai.

His research interests have, for the most part, centered on the intersection of ethnic identity and migration. One piece of his research in India looked at how a culture of migration helps to shape the effects of remittances from migrants on status relations and marriage patterns among Muslims in Hyderabad, which further promotes migration abroad. In New York and Western Europe, he studied how the second-generation children of immigrants culturally and economically assimilate and how peer interactions, that is, who one hangs out with, shapes economic and cultural outcomes. His research in Dubai examined how Dubai’s stories – history, economic development, culture – are dependent on the “permanent impermanence” of expatriate foreign workers who comprise more than 90 percent of the population and who, for the most part, live in Dubai on three-year, renewable visas. His most recent publication is a general book on migration and multiculturalism.

Professor Ali is currently the co-editor of Contexts Magazine (, an official publication of the American Sociological Association. From 2012-2014, he was the Viewpoints editor at Contexts Magazine.

Professor Ali is also a potter and Ultimate Frisbee player.

Personal website:
Twitter: @skyedali 


Migration, Ethnicity, Social Inequality


  • Author (with Douglas Hartmann), Migration, Incorporation, and Change in an Interconnected World (Routledge, 2015)
  • Author (with Tineke Fokkema), “The Importance of Peers: Assimilation Patterns Among Second-Generation Turkish Immigrants in Western Europe,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2015)
  • Author, “Going and Coming and Going Again: Second-Generation Migrants in Dubai,” Mobilities (2011); reprinted in Links to the Diasporic Homeland: Second Generation and Ancestral 'Return' Mobilities (Routledge, 2014).
  • Author, Dubai: Gilded Cage (Yale University Press, 2010); reprinted by Orient Blackswan (2010).
  • Author, “Dubai’s Permanently Impermanent Guest Workers,” Contexts (2010); reprinted in The Contexts Reader (W.W. Norton, 2011).
  • Author, “‘The Moslems Are Here – Be Afraid!’ Review of Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe:  Immigration, Islam, and the West,”  Contexts (2010).
  • Author, “Understanding acculturation among second-generation South Asian Muslims in the United States,” Contributions to Indian Sociology (2008).
  • Author, “‘Go West Young Man: The Culture of Migration Among Muslims in Hyderabad, India,” the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2007); reprinted in Migration and Culture (Edward Elgar, 2011).
  • Author, “Why Here, Why Now? Young Muslim Women Wearing Hijab,” published in Muslim World (2005)
  • Author, “Collective and Elective Ethnicity: Caste Among Urban Muslims in India,” Sociological Forum (2002); reprinted in Modern Indian Culture and Society (Routledge, 2009).

Professional Affiliations

  • Recipient, Fulbright Fellowship (2006)
  • Recipient, Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (1997)
  • Member, American Sociological Association