I am a lecturer, researcher, and disability activist based in Indonesia. I lived in Qatar, and traveled extensively across the Middle East, between 2007 and 2014. I then resided in the UK, and wandered across Europe, from 2014 to 2018.
I am currently a lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Universitas Islam Indonesia in Yogyakarta, while at the same time a research associate at Jakarta-based Institute for Development of Economics and Finance.
My academic background is in International Relations, focusing specifically on Middle East and Islamic politics, which originates from a B.A. from Qatar University. This was further shaped by an M.A. in International Politics and a Ph.D in Politics from the University of Manchester in the UK, which I completed at the age of 26.
My undergraduate thesis focused on China's Arab-Israeli conflict policy, while my master dissertation was titled "A Comparative Study of China's Approaches to Its Relationship with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates." In my Ph.D, I deployed neo-Gramscian perspectives to investigate the implementation of China's Belt and Road Initiative in the Gulf.
On the theoretical side, my areas of research and teaching focus on global political economy, politics of trade and partnership, and critical theories to IR. On the empirical side, I am mainly interested in China's foreign policy, especially towards the Middle East and Indonesia, as well as the growing relations between Indonesia and the Middle East.
Meanwhile, however, my journalism works also touch upon Indonesian affairs, disability issues, and Muslim affairs.
Courses taught: China Area Studies (Fall 2019); Middle East Area Studies (Fall 2019); Theories in IR (Fall 2019); Research Methods in IR (Fall 2019); Global Political Economy (Spring 2019); Politics of International Cooperation (Spring 2019; Spring 2020); Introduction to Area Studies (Fall 2019); Human Rights (Spring 2020); European Area Studies (Spring 2019); European Union (Spring 2019).
I am a disabled. I am unable to use my hands to perform certain actions including handwriting. I have written my story as a disabled in my book in Bahasa Indonesia. I have also written a short summary of the book in Bahasa Indonesia and English. I have been invited to speak about my story as disabled; for example, at the University of Northampton's Disability Awareness Week in 2014.
I have a specific interest on Islam and disability. I have written two articles on that subject entitled "Why I Admire Muhammad: A Disability Perspective" and "The Qur'an: A Handbook for the Disabled Community", and I have spoken about the topic at some universities in Indonesia and the UK.
In early 2017, I founded Sekolabilitas, an Indonesia-based NGO focusing on helping students with disabilities in accessing proper education (If you know anyone who need help or you would like to get involved, check the website or contact me).
When I am not teaching or researching, I love to backpack and climb mountains. I have climbed a number of mountains in Indonesia, the Middle East, and Europe. I have also traveled to some parts of Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East, and I am looking forward seeing more.
I am available for commissioned (and sometimes voluntary) works, research projects, and public speaking. You can reach me at muhzulfikar [at] gmail [dot] com. Due to my minimalist commitment, I only managed few social media sites including LinkedIn and academia. I also blog about minimalism in Bahasa Indonesia on Tumblr. I only have one phone number and only use my phone's standard dial and messaging apps along with WhatsApp as the main mode of mobile communication (e-mail me if you need my number).