Merryl Wyn Davies
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Merryl Wyn Davies is a Welsh Muslim scholar, writer and broadcaster who specializes in Islam, and the co-author of many books and articles with Ziauddin Sardar. A leading exponent of Islamic anthropology, she is Director of the Muslim Institute, London.
Merryl Wyn Davies was born on 23 June 1948 in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. After reading anthropology at University College, London, Davies began a distinguished career in broadcasting and journalism. Following jobs with local Welsh newspapers, and a stint with BBC Radio, Davies spent a decade with BBC TV Religious programmes, working on such award-winning shows as ‘Everyman’, ‘Heart of the Matter’ and ‘Global Report’  and the acclaimed series, ‘Encounters with Islam’. In 1985 she left the BBC to write independently and to work for the London based Muslim magazine Inquiry. During the 1990s, she worked as advisor and speech writer for Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister and now the Leader of the Opposition; and produced the ‘Faces of Islam’ series for TV3 Malaysia. She returned to UK in 1996 to the UK and became Media Officer for the Muslim Council of Britain. In 2009, she joined the Muslim Institute of London to become its Director.
A noted writer on Islam, Davies pioneered a new approach to Islamic anthropology and a highly original critique of America based on Hollywood films. In her seminal work, Knowing One Another: Shaping an Islamic Anthropology, Davies developed a new mode of inquiry which she described, ‘after ibn Khaldun, as ilm ul umran’: a radical discourse shaped by dialogue between civilisations and cultures and based on an holistic understanding of what it means to be human. Anthropology, Davies argued, is basic to fostering understanding between and amongst people. It equips Muslims with both self-knowledge and the understanding to treat non-Muslims with tolerance. Such knowledge will enable Muslims to play a constructive part in the modern world’s constructive future. In three books on America, written with Ziauddin Sardar, Davies develops ‘laws of American mythology’ (‘Fear is essential’; ‘Escape is the reason for being’, ‘America is the idea of nation’, ‘American democracy has the right to be imperial and express itself through empire’, ‘cinema is the engine of empire’ etc.) which, she argues, are essential to understand the psychology of America the security state, its foreign policy and international behaviour. An expert on Hollywood, Davies uses the classics of American cinema to make her arguments.
- Introducing Anthropology, Icon Books, Cambridge, 2002
- Darwin and fundamentalism (2000)
- Beyond Frontiers: Islam and Contemporary Needs, Mansell, London, 1989
- Knowing one another: shaping an Islamic anthropology (1988)
With Ziauddin Sardar
- Will America Change? Icon Books, Cambridge, 2008
- American Dream, Global Nightmare, Icon Books, Cambridge, 2004
- The No Nonsense Guide to Islam, Verso, London, 2004
- Why Do People Hate America?, Icon Books, London, 2003
- Barbaric Others: A Manifesto on Western Racism, Pluto Press, London, 1993 (also with Ashis Nandy)
- Distorted Imagination: Lessons from the Rushdie Affair, Grey Seal/Berita Publishing, London/Kuala Lumpur, 1990
- Faces of Islam: Conversations on Contemporary Issues, Berita Books, Kuala Lumpur, 1989
- These programmes can be found in the BBC achieve: http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/programme/index.shtml
- Merryl Wyn Davies, Knowing One Another, Mansell, London, 1988, p159.
- Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, American Dream, Global Nightmare, Icon Books, Cambridge, 2004, p21-27.