Kaja Borchgrevink

Doctoral Researcher

Kaja Borchgrevink
Email: kaja@prio.org
Work phone: 22 54 77 76
Twitter: @KajaBorch

Research Interests

Kaja Borchgrevink's main research focus is on religion, civil society and development. She is currently engaged in doctoral research investigating the relationship between private Islamic charity and poverty reduction practices in the context of Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora in Oslo, Norway.

She has previously completed a number of studies of religious education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the transnational connections between religious seminaries (madrasas) in the two countries.  Earlier research includes studies of the relationship between civil society and peace building in Afghanistan, under and after the Taliban and the role and significance of religious groups and networks in Afghanistan after 2001.

Kaja Borchgrevink has a background from Development Studies and practical development work in South Asia.


​​​​Work experience:

2006: Researcher, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

2004 – 2005: Programme Grant Officer, Aga Khan Foundation – Afghanistan

2003 – 2004: Programme Officer, Small Grants Programme Unit, UNDP Pakistan

2001– 2003: Programme Officer, Sustainable Livelihoods Unit, UNDP Pakistan

2001: Intern, Orangi Pilot Project Research an Training Institute (OPP-RTI), Pakistan



2000: MSc Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK.

1999: Cand. mag. in Hindi-Urdu language studies, History of Religion, South Asia Studies and International Human Rights, University of Oslo.


Languages spoken:

English (proficient)

Hindi and Urdu (conversational)

Norwegian (native)



PRIO started tracking events online in 2007. This listing is not complete. Past events may be mentioned in our news archive.


Recent publications

Erdal, Marta Bivand & Kaja Borchgrevink (2016) Transnational Islamic charity as everyday rituals, Global Networks. DOI: 10.1111/glob.12137.

All publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Erdal, Marta Bivand & Kaja Borchgrevink (2016) Transnational Islamic charity as everyday rituals, Global Networks. DOI: 10.1111/glob.12137.
Borchgrevink, Kaja (2013) Transnational Links of Afghan Madrasas: Implications for the Reform of Religious Education, Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education 43(1): 69–84.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Astri Suhrke (2009) Negotiating Justice Sector Reform in Afghanistan, Crime, Law and Social Change 51(2): 211–130.

Book Chapter

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010) Afghanistan: Civil Society Between Modernity and Tradition, in Civil Society and Peacebuilding: a Critical Assessment. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner (235–257).
Suhrke, Astri & Kaja Borchgrevink (2009) Afghanistan: Justice Sector Reform, in New Perspectives on Liberal Peacebuilding. (178–200).

Popular Article

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2015) Muslimer flest feirer id [Most Muslims Celebrate Eid], Dagbladet.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2014) Norske fremmedhjelpere [Foreign helpers], NRK Ytring.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2014) Muslimsk dugnad for de fattige [Muslim charity for the poor], VG.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2013) Den usynlige bistanden, Klassekampen.
Borchgrevink, Kaja (2009) Norge støtter ikke radikale miljøer [Norway Doesn't Support Radical Environments], Aftenposten, 21 October.
Harpviken, Kristian Berg & Kaja Borchgrevink (2009) A Muted Voice? Religious Actors and Civil Society in Post-2001 Afghanistan, Afghanistan Info, 15 March.

Conference Paper

Borchgrevink, Kaja (2013) Conceptions of poverty in the Islamic tradition: private Islamic charity and approaches to poverty reduction in Pakistan, presented at Interdisciplinary workshop on Religion, Poverty and Politics, Bergen, 21/02/13 – 22/02/13.
Borchgrevink, Kaja; & Harpviken, Kristian Berg 2008 Afghan Civil Society: Caught in Conflicting Agendas, presented at International Studies Association Annual Convention, , 27 March.

PRIO Policy Brief

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2015) Other Voices, Other Choices?, PRIO Policy Brief, 15. Oslo: PRIO.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Kaja Borchgrevink (2015) Diaspora Development Engagements Seen Through the Prism of Islamic Charity, PRIO Policy Brief, 16. Oslo: PRIO.
Tariq, Mohammed Osman; Kaja Borchgrevink & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2011) Building Trust and Institutions - Religious Institution-Building in Afghanistan: An Exploration, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010) Teaching Religion, Taming Rebellion: Religious Education Reform in Afghanistan, PRIO Policy Brief, 7. Oslo: PRIO.

PRIO Paper

Borchgrevink, Kaja (2010) Beyond Borders: Diversity and Transnational Links in Afghan Religious Education, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
Borchgrevink, Kaja (2007) Religious Actors and Civil Society in Post-2001 Afghanistan, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

Report - Other

Borchgrevink, Kaja; Kristian Berg Harpviken; Kanishka Nawabi; Mirwais Wardak; Astri Suhrke; & Arne Strand (2007) Disconnected and Discounted? Religious actors and Civil Society in Post - 2001 Afghanistan, PRIO-CPAU-CMI Policy Brief. Oslo/Bergen: PRIO/CPAU/CMI.

Report - External Series

Borchgrevink, Kaja; & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2011) Taking Stock: Madrasa Reform in Pakistan , Noref Policy Brief, 4. Oslo: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).
Borchgrevink, Kaja (2011) Pakistan’s Madrasas: Moderation or Militancy? The Madrasa Debate and the Reform Process, Noref Policy Papers. Oslo: NOREF.
Borchgrevink, Kaja; & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010) Afghanistan’s Religious Landscape: Politicising the Sacred, Noref Policy Brief, 3. Oslo: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).

Blog Posts

Most Muslims Celebrate Eid

Posted by Kaja Borchgrevink & Marta Bivand Erdal on Thursday, 16 July 2015

Now that Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is ending, most Muslims – in Oslo, as elsewhere in the world – celebrate the festival of Eid. It is a time for celebration. For many Muslims, it is also a time to help those less well-off than themselves, either through the annual “religious tax” zakat or through other forms of charity. Muslims in Oslo are engaged in a range of charitable, humanitarian and development efforts. We have learned about these through our research over the past four years, exploring development involvement in Pakistan and beyond, among the Pakistani diaspora. However, charitable ...

A Muted Voice? Religious Actors and Civil Society in Post-2001 Afghanistan

Posted by Kristian Berg Harpviken & Kaja Borchgrevink on Wednesday, 25 March 2015

In general, religious actors are not perceived as possible contributors to civil society. In Afghanistan, where religion permeates society and politics, and where religious leaders and networks bear considerable influence, this is particularly problematic. There is a need for a thorough rethink of what civil society is, and the role of religion within it. While knowledge is deficient in vital areas, what we do know merits a thorough reorientation of policy and practice. Religious actors are under double pressure. The Taliban, as the main armed opposition, see Islam as their main source of legitimacy. Religious leaders who express support for ...

Foreign Helpers

Posted by Kaja Borchgrevink & Marta Bivand Erdal on Friday, 19 December 2014

While a small number of young Norwegian Muslims have travelled to Syria to join militant groups as “foreign fighters”, far greater numbers of young Muslims are supporting humanitarian efforts. Most media attention is focused on young people travelling abroad to fight, rather than on young people’s humanitarian work. Throughout the autumn, aid organizations and groups of individuals have been collecting winter clothing, footwear, sleeping bags and blankets. With winter closing in, the situation is precarious and there is great enthusiasm for collecting clothes and blankets to send to civilians both in Syria itself and in refugee camps in the region. ...

Muslim Charity for the Poor

Posted by Kaja Borchgrevink & Marta Bivand Erdal on Monday, 28 July 2014

Fasting and celebration At this time Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid – Islam’s most important religious festival. Eid marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. After the Eid prayer, families and friends gather to celebrate. This is a time for dressing in fine clothing, eating well, and giving gifts to children. In fact, it is not unlike Christmas. During Eid, it is customary for everyone who can afford it to donate a sum of money, zakat-al-fitr, so that the poor will also be able to eat their fill during the festival. These donations are often ...

Invisible Aid

Posted by Marta Bivand Erdal & Kaja Borchgrevink on Friday, 4 July 2014

Muslims pay 15 times more “religious tax” than the rest of the world gives in humanitarian aid. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, has just started. A time of fasting for devout Muslims, this is also the time of year when most Muslims pay their annual zakat. Zakat is a form of compulsory almsgiving, a kind of “religious tax.” The amount due is 2.5 per cent of a Muslim’s wealth at the start of Ramadan, subject to a minimum threshold. The Koran contains clear rules about who is eligible to receive zakat: in general, these are people who ...

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