Student Awards
07 September 2020

Master’s Graduate Paras Arora Wins Aladdin Project Youth Award

Paras was selected to attend the International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership (ISUIL) in Istanbul, Turkey from 15-27 July 2019, representing the Graduate Institute as the UNESCO Youth Ambassador for Peace and Intercultural Dialogue. His collaborative research project on “Queering Integration: Listening to Queer Muslim Migrants’ Voices” won the prestigious prize.

“My team members and I tried to complicate and enrich the political aims of Project Aladdin by bringing the perspective of Queer Muslim Migrants (QMMs) and the problems of homophobia, transphobia and heteronormativity they face in both their home and asylum countries”, explained Paras. “Critiquing the near absence of sexuality and gender-identity in existing accounts on cultural integration and migration, we tried to turn the policy gaze towards the experience of sexual-emotional loneliness, invisibility and marginalisation within LBGTQ movements experienced by the QMMs”.

The Summer University is an annual programme launched by the Aladdin Project in partnership with 16 prestigious universities in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Africa and under the patronage of the European Parliament and UNESCO. Paras partnered with Cihangir Can of Bogazici University, Gabriela Sawaya from the University of São Paulo and Luke Murphy of Boston College for the project, the final version of which was submitted in October 2019. 

“With young researchers from leading universities of the US, EU, and MENA regions all gathered in one place, ISUIL strengthened my hope that a peaceful research collaboration is possible in future to undo the injustices of racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism”, Paras said.

Previous recipients of the Aladdin Project Youth Award include alumna Giulia Manccini Pinheiro.

Paras recently graduated with a Master in Anthropology and Sociology. In his master’s dissertation on  “Caring for a Child Who Never Grows Up?: Towards an Ethnography of Care Work of Autistic Adults in Delhi, India”, he ethnographically followed how the voices of maternal caregivers to autistic adults in North India are modulated on an everyday basis to produce an inhabitable life and new future imaginaries for one's child.

He secured admission to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Anthropology of Gender, Kinship, & Care at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, but, for now, he plans on going back to India to work more intimately with primary caregivers of neuro-diverse individuals.