University of Calgary

Killam Visiting Scholar

October 16, 2009

Middle East social work scholar shares findings

Alean Al-Krenawi
Alean Al-Krenawi will speak on Tuesday about political violence and Middle Eastern youths. / Photo: Ken Bendiktsen
Blood vengeance. Traditional healing. Polygamy. Alean Al-Krenawi has challenged these practices throughout his career as a social worker, researcher and scholar working to change the face of his profession in Israel.

Seconded to the U of C’s Faculty of Social Work as a Killam Visiting Scholar, Al-Krenawi is the director of the Centre for Bedouin Studies and Development at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. For the past 15 years, he has conducted research in Israel, Canada and several Arab and African countries.

Since beginning his nine-month secondment in August, Al-Krenawi has planned a series of public lectures at the university on a variety of research topics. A recent well-attended talk explored the effect of polygamy on women’s health. On Tuesday, Oct. 20, he will speak on the impact of political violence on Israeli and Palestinian youth, a topic he has researched for the past five years in collaboration with U of C social work professor John Graham.

Al-Krenawi’s research attempts to integrate Western teachings into Palestinian and Israeli societies; a feat which, he says, comes with many challenges.

“In areas where traditional healers are more accepted than modern mental-health practitioners, it’s difficult to bring in new ideas,” he says. “Yet, at the same time, we cannot wait a minute longer to share knowledge of effective social work practices. People’s lives are at stake.”

Al-Krenawi demonstrates the urgent need for these services with his research on polygamy. “Findings suggest that polygamy often has devastating effects on the mental health of the women and children involved,” he says. If a man takes another wife, for example, he may leave very few resources for his previous wife and children.

Al-Krenawi has collaborated with Graham on several research projects over the years. The pair met in graduate school at the University of Toronto and they have been collaborators and close friends since. Al-Krenawi is excited to be working so closely with Graham, and says he’s honoured to have been chosen by the faculty as the Killam Visiting Scholar.

“I am delighted to share my research findings with Canadian colleagues. It’s important for social work practitioners to remain connected, even on a global scale, and I hope that we will learn a great deal from each other.”

To connect with Alean Al-Krenawi, email him at

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