Primary Faculty


Ali Asani

Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures; Chair, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program
A scholar of Islam in South Asia, Asani's research focuses on Shia and Sufi devotional traditions in the region. In addition, he is interested in popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, and Muslim communities in the West.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Ali S. Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University. After completing his high school education in Kenya, he attended Harvard College, with a concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion, graduating summa cum laude in 1977. He continued his graduate work at Harvard in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC), receiving his Ph.D. in 1984. Prof. Asani holds a joint appointment between the Committee on the Study of Religion and NELC. He also serves on the faculty of the Departments of Sanskrit and Indian Studies and African and African-American Studies.
Asani has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of languages such as Urdu/Hindi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Swahili as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. Besides his various language courses, he teaches Foreign Cultures 70: "Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies"; Culture and Belief 12: "For the Love of God and His Prophet: Religion, Literature and the Arts in Muslim Cultures"; Religion 1802: "An introduction to Islamic Mysticism: the Sufi Tradition"; Religion 1820: "Islam in South Asia: Religion, Culture and Identity in South Asian Muslim Societies"; Freshman Seminar 37y: "Muslim Voices in Contemporary World Literatures". He currently directs NELC's doctoral program in Indo-Muslim Culture.

Steve Caton

Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies
PhD University of Chicago, 1984
(617) 495-1886
William James Hall (318)
Linguistics, cultural studies, Yemeni poetics and politics, gender, US men’s movement.
Anthropology 1640: "Language and Culture"; Anthropology 1886: "Sense and Sensibility: William and Henry James in Anthropological Perspective"; Anthropology 2704: "Linguistic Pragmatics and Cultural Analysis in Anthropology"

Luis Girón-Negrón

Professor of Comparative Literature and of Romance Languages and Literatures
PhD Harvard University, 1997
(617) 495-2567
Comparative Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures
Spanish Literature (Medieval and Golden Age); Arabic and Hebrew Literatures (Middle Ages); History of Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages); Historical Linguistics; Comparative Literature

William Graham

Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor; Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies (FAS); Member of the Faculty of Divinity — on leave 2012–13
(617) 495-4513
Professor Graham has been a member of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 1973 and holds a joint appointment in NELC and the Study of Religion. He is currently serving also as Dean of Harvard Divinity School (2002-). His scholarly specialization is in the early religious history of Islam, with special focus on the Qur'an and Hadith literatures. He is also interested in ritual, pilgrimage, and scripture studies, as well as the problem of tradition and traditionalism. He is the author of "Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion" (1986), and "Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam" (1977), co-author of "The Heritage of World Civilizations" (now in its sixth edition, 2003) and of "Three Faiths, One God" (2002) , co-editor of "Islamfiche: Readings from Islamic Primary Sources", and the author of articles and reviews in both Islamic studies and the history of religion. He has taught reading courses in Classical Arabic, seminars in religion and Islamic studies, a Core course on Islamic civilization, and "Scriptures and Classics: A Thematic Introduction to the History of Religion"; however, his current decanal duties normally him only to teach one course each year at present.

William Granara

CMES Director; Professor of the Practice of Arabic on the Gordon Gray Endowment, Director of Modern Language Programs
(617) 496-9065
William Granara is Gordon Gray Professor of Arabic and teaches Arabic language and literature. He is currently the director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and director of the Moroccan Studies Program at Harvard. In addition he is the founding director of Harvard Summer School’s program, Mediterranean Crossings: France and the Arab World, in Aix-en-Provence, France. He studied French and Arabic at Georgetown and earned a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania (1986). He has translated three Arabic novels into English, The Earthquake by Tahir Wattar (2000), Granada by Radwa Ashour (2004), and The Battle of Poitiers by Jurji Zaydan (2012). In addition to his scholarly publications on modern Arabic literature, he researches on the literature and cultures of medieval Muslim Sicily and Spain. Among his recent articles are: “Sicilian Poets in Seville: Literary Affinities Across Political Borders” (2013); “Fragments of the Past: Reconstructing Palermo’s Jewish Neighborhood, 973-1492” (2010); and “Rethinking Muslim Sicily’s Golden Age: Poetry and Patronage at the Fatimid Kalbid Court” (2008).

Wolfhart Heinrichs

James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic — on leave Spring 2013
(617) 495-3977

Baber Johansen

Professor of Islamic Religious Studies, Harvard Divinity School (On leave 2013–14)
PhD Freie Universitat, Berlin

Andover 122
Harvard Divinity School
Law and Religion in Classical and Modern Muslim World, Long-Term Changes in Islamic Classical and Postclassical Legal Doctrine, Modern Muslim Debates on State Models, The Status of Islamic Law in Modern Arab Legislation and Jurisprudence, Twentieth-Century Liberal Interpretations of Islam

Cemal Kafadar

Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies; Director of Doctoral Studies, CMES
PhD McGill University, 1987
Robinson Hall Room 1-01
Prof. Kafadar is interested in social and cultural history of the Middle East and Southeastern Europe in the early modern era. He teaches seminars on archival research and on popular culture. His latest publications include "The Ottomans and Europe, 1400-1600" and a book on the rise of the Ottoman state.
Fall 2010: History 1878b "Ottoman State and Society II (1550-1920)"; History 2884 "Topics in Ottoman Social and Cultural History: Seminar" Spring 2011: History 88b "Medieval History and Cinema"; History 2885 "Introduction to Archival Research in Ottoman History: Proseminar"

Susan Kahn

Associate Director, Director of the AM Program, CMES; Lecturer on Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
(617) 495-7596
Susan Kahn received her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. Her book, Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel, was published in Fall 2000 by Duke University Press and won a National Jewish Book Award for the year 2000, as well as the 2001 Eileen Basker Memorial Prize, awarded by the Society of Medical Anthropology for outstanding research in gender and health. Her research interests include medical anthropology, kinship studies, Israel studies and anthropology of the Middle East. She is currently working on projects involving genetics and interspecies kinship.

Ousmane Kane

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society (HDS); Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (FAS)
MPhil, PhD, Institut d’études politiques de Paris
Andover 304 (HDS)
Harvard Divinity School; Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Ousmane Kane, a scholar of Islamic studies and comparative and Islamic politics, joined Harvard Divinity School in July 2012 as the first Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society at HDS. Since 2002, he was an associate professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Previously, he was a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Université de Saint-Louis in Senegal. He is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the African Studies Association of North America and the Council for the Development of Social and Economic Research in Africa. Kane studies the history of Islamic religious institutions and organizations since the eighteenth century, and he is engaged in documenting the intellectual history of Islam in Africa. He has also focused on the phenomenon of Muslim globalization. His book Homeland Is the Arena: Religion, Transnationalism and the Integration of Senegalese Immigrants in America (Oxford University Press, 2010) looks at the community of Senegalese immigrants to the United States in New York and the importance these immigrants assign to their religious communities for the organization of their lives. His other books include Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial Nigeria (Brill, 2003) and Timbuktu and Beyond: Rethinking African Intellectual History, forthcoming from Harvard University Press. He has published articles in the Harvard International Review, Politique étrangère, Afrique contemporaine, African Journal of International Affairs, and elsewhere.

Roy P. Mottahedeh

Gurney Professor of History — on leave Spring 2013
PhD Harvard University, 1969
(617) 495-8433 (direct line, no voicemail), (617) 495-4055 (for his assistant)
38 Kirkland Street, 210
History; Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Pre-modern social and intellectual history of the Islamic Middle East
Roy Mottahedeh joined Harvard's history department faculty as professor of Islamic history in 1986, and has served as director of Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He was appointed Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University in 2006. Professor Mottahedeh's major work is on the pre-modern social and intellectual history of the Islamic Middle East. His publications include Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society (1980) and "The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran" (1985), and "Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence" (2003). He is the faculty adviser of a journal, "The Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review". He is currently working on a book on the Shia' of Iraq.
Spring 2010: History 1877a "History of the Near East, 600-1055" ; History 2886 "Topics in Islamic History: Seminar"

Afsaneh Najmabadi

Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Professor of the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Chair of the Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
PhD Sociology, University of Manchester
Committee on Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality; History
Genealogies of Iranian feminism, historiography of sexuality on non-Euro/American cultures
Afsaneh Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Her last book, "Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity" (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), received the 2005 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize from the American Historical Association. She is currently working on "Sex in Change: Configurations of Sexuality and Gender in Contemporary Iran", and on "Genus of Sex: How Jins Became Sex in Iran". Afsaneh and a team of Qajar historians received a NEH grant to develop a comprehensive digital archive and website that will preserve, link, and render accessible primary source materials related to the social and cultural history of women’s worlds during the reign of the Qajar dynasty (1785–1925) in Iran.
Fall 2010: History 2805 "Gender and Sexuality: Comparative Historical Studies of Islamic Middle East, North Africa, South, and East Asia: Seminar" Spring 2011: Culture and Belief 41 "Gender, Islam, and Nation in the Middle East and North Africa" Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 1409 "Transsexuality, Transgenderism, and the Rest"

Gülru Necipoğlu

Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, Department of the History of Art and Architecture
(617) 495-2355
Gülru Necipoğlu has been Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art at Harvard University since 1993 where she earned her Ph.D in 1986. Professor Necipoğlu is the author of "Architecture, Ceremonial Power: The Topkapi Palace" (1991); "The Topkapi Scroll, Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture" (1995); and "The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire" (2005). She is also the editor of "Muqarnas: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture" and "Supplements to Muqarnas". Her "Topkapi Scroll" won the Albert Hourani Book Award and the Spiro Kostoff Book Award. "The Age of Sinan" has been awarded the Fuat Koprulu Prize. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the International Palladio Center for Study of Architecture in Vicenza. Professor Necipoğlu's articles include interpretations of various aspects of Ottoman visual culture, comparative studies on early modern Islamic art and architecture (particularly Safavid, Mughal, Ottoman), and deal with cross-cultural artistic exchanges between Byzantium, Renaissance Italy, and the Islamic lands. Her publications also address questions of premodern architectural practice, plans and drawings, the aesthetics of abstract ornament and geometric design. Her critical interests encompass methodological and historiographical issues in modern constructions of the field of Islamic art.
Fall 2010: History of Art and Architecture 124e "Architecture of the Early Modern Islamic Empires : Proseminar"

E. Roger Owen

Director, Contemporary Arab Studies Program, CMES; A.J. Meyer Professor of Middle Eastern History, Emeritus
D.Phil. University of Oxford, 1964
(617) 495-2817
38 Kirkland Street, 210
Economic and political history of the Middle East since 1800; Theories of imperialism including military occupations
Prof. Owen is working on a book which connects Middle East with world history during the first wave of modern globalization, 1870-1930.

David Roxburgh

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History
(617) 496-1056
David J. Roxburgh grew up in the Borders, Scotland, and attended Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art from 1983 until 1988 where he received an M.A. with Honors in Fine Art. His degree combined history of art with studio practice (school of sculpture). He won a Thouron Fellowship for a one-year exchange program at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1988 and enrolled in the doctoral program in the Department of History of Art. He carried out his doctoral thesis research in Istanbul and completed the thesis in Washington, D.C., as a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution and Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, in 1996. Roxburgh started his teaching career at Harvard University in 1996 and was promoted to full professor with tenure in 2003. In 2007 he became Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History. He also taught at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, as a visiting professor in 2003. His books include "Prefacing the Image: The Writing of Art History in Sixteenth-Century Iran" (Leiden, 2001) and "The Persian Album, 1400-1600: From Dispersal to Collection" (New Haven, 2005). He has also worked as a curator on the exhibitions "Turks: A Journey of A Thousand Years" (London, Royal Academy of Art, 2005) and "Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600-1900M" (Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 2007). His articles take a variety of approaches to the study of aesthetics, art and culture of the book, history of collections, and written sources.

Hashim Sarkis

Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies
(617) 496-0330
Urban Planning and Design, Graduate School of Design
Hashim Sarkis is the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies. He received his BArch and BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, his MArch from the GSD, and his PhD in architecture from Harvard University. Sarkis is a practicing architect between Cambridge and Lebanon. His projects include a housing complex for the fishermen of Tyre, a park in downtown Beirut, two schools in the North Lebanon region, and several urban and landscape projects. He is author of several books and articles including "Circa 1958: Lebanon in the Pictures and Plans of Constantinos Doxiadis" (Beirut: Dar Annahar, 2003), editor of "CASE: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital" (Munich: Prestel, 2001), co-editor with Peter G. Rowe of "Projecting Beirut" (Munich: Prestel, 1998), and executive editor of the CASE publication series (GSD/Prestel). Sarkis directs the Aga Khan Program of Activities at the GSD. From 2002-2005 he was also Director of the Master of Design Studies Program (MDes) and the Doctorate of Design (DDes) program.
Sarkis teaches courses in the history and theory of architecture, such as "Practices in Democracy", "Constructing Vision: A History and Theory of Perspective's Applications in Architecture", "Developing Worlds: Planning and Design in the Middle East and Latin America After WWII", and "Green Modern: A History of Environmental Consciousness in Architecture from Patrick Geddes to the Present", and design studios: "The Architecture of Geography: Istanbul, Mixed-Use Development and the Panoramic Condition"; "Makina/Madina: Reconfiguring the Relationship Between Geography and Event in the City of Fez"; "Intermodal Istanbul"; "Square One: Martyrs' Square, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon"; and "A Field of Schools: Rethinking the Relationship between School and City in San Diego".

Malika Zeghal

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life
Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, Ph.D. (Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris)
Barker Center 411
Committee on the Study of Religion and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Islamist movements and in the institutionalization of Islam in the Muslim world, with special focus on the Middle East and North Africa in the postcolonial period and on Muslim diasporas in North America and Western Europe
Malika Zeghal is a political scientist who studies religion through the lens of Islam and power. She is particularly interested in Islamist movements and in the institutionalization of Islam in the Muslim world, with special focus on the Middle East and North Africa in the postcolonial period and on Muslim diasporas in North America and Western Europe. She has more general interests in the circulation and role of religious ideologies in situations of conflict and/or dialogue. She has published a study of central religious institutions in Egypt ("Gardiens de l'Islam. Les oulémas d'al-Azhar dans l'Egypte contemporaine" [Presses de Sciences Po, 1996]), and a volume on Islam and politics in Morocco ("Islamism in Morocco: Religion, Authoritarianism, and Electoral Politics" [Markus Wiener, 2008]), which has won the French Voices-Pen American Center Award. She has recently edited a special issue of the "Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée", "Intellectuels de l'islam contemporain. Nouvelles générations, nouveaux débats" [123, 2008], on new intellectual debates in contemporary Islam. She is currently working on a book on states, secularity, and Islam in the contemporary Arab world, forthcoming at Princeton University Press.