Asma Barlas
Professor of Politics and
Director of the Center for the Study of
Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
Ithaca College
 

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I am currently a professor of Politics and director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (separate units) at Ithaca College, New York. In 2008, I also held the Spinoza Chair in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

My career path, however, began much earlier, in 1976 in Pakistan, when I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat, a position from which I was later fired on the orders of General Zia ul Haq, the military dictator, for having criticized him. I then worked briefly as the assistant editor of an opposition newspaper, the Muslim, before leaving for the U.S., where I eventually got political asylum. While in Pakistan, I also published poetry and short-stories.

Much of my scholarship is about different modes of violence. In my Ph.D. dissertation, I examined the relationship between military dictatorships in Pakistan and the political-economy of British colonial rule in India (Democracy, Nationalism and Communalism: The Colonial Legacy in South Asia,1995). Soon after I began teaching, I became interested in Muslim sexual/ textual politics, specifically, the abuse of religious knowledge to oppress Muslim women ("Believing Women" in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an, 2002). This interest then shifted to studying the interface between Islam and the West (Islam, Muslims and the U.S., 2004; Re- understanding Islam, 2008).

Recent book chapters have focused on the body, the Abrahamic tradition, Islamic feminism, and the U.S. project of secularizing Muslim societies. Two essays are forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender, and Bloomsbury Academic's Series, Textual Moments in the History of Political Thought, to be published in the U.K.

To my good fortune and endless gratification, my work on the Qur'an has been translated into several languages (Arabic, Bengali, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and Urdu) and I've also been invited to speak about it both in the U.S. and abroad (Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Italy, and the U.K.).

From Pakistan, I have a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy and an M.A. in Journalism and, from the U.S., an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Studies.

For a list of my work history and publications, please see my c.v.