Bjørn Olav Utvik

Bjørn Olav Utvik, Professor in Middle East Studies at the University of Oslo.

Photo: uio

Bjørn Olav Utvik is Professor in Middle East Studies at the Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies, University of Oslo. His work focuses on the contemporary political history of the Middle East. He is the leading Nordic specialist on Islamist movements in the region.

He has been the head of the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages ​​since April 2015.
In 2010 he became a professor of Middle Eastern history after being an associate professor since 1996. Utvik completed his doctorate in 2000 with a dissertation on the economic discourse of Egyptian Islamists. This dissertation was later shortened and published as the book The Pious Road to Development.
His main field of research has been the modern political history of the Middle East and North Africa with a particular focus on Islamist movements and more generally the political role of religion.
He has also led several major research projects, especially the Gulf Research Unit (GRU 2008-2013) with a focus on political and economic development in the Gulf region, and until he became head of the project New Middle East (NewME 2011-2016). A late fruit of the work in GRU was the recent book Oil States in the New Middle East: Uprisings and Stability (Routledge), edited together with Kjetil Selvik.
Utviks first experience with the Middle East was as a soldier in the UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in November 1978 – November 1979. Since then, he has had several longer (and many short) stays in the region, primarily in Egypt and Iran. He was a visiting researcher at the University of Tehran in the spring of 2003 and at the French Center CEDEJ (Center d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales) in Cairo in the autumn of 2010. (

Some of his publications: Islamism (2020). A System to the Chaos? The Arab Spring Six Years After (2017), In Nora Sunniva Eggen & Rana Issa (ed.), Philologists in the World: A Festschrift in Honour of Gunvor Mejdell.  Novus Forlag.  p 519 – 542. A question of faith? Islamists and secularists fight over the post-Mubarak state (2017).  Contemporary Arab Affairs.  p 93- 117.