Professor of Politics and
Director of the Center for the Study of
Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
|Bio / C.V.|
At present, I am the director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity and a tenured professor in the Department of Politics (separate units). In 2008, I also held the Spinoza Chair in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Much of my work focuses on the ideologies, epistemologies, and practices of violence. In my Ph.D. dissertation, I traced the genealogy of chronic military rule in Pakistan to the political-economy of British colonialism in India (Democracy, Nationalism and Communalism: The Colonial Legacy in South Asia, 1995). After graduate school, however, I was drawn to an entirely new area of study: Muslim sexual/ textual politics, specifically, the relationship between patriarchal interpretations of the Qur'an -- used to justify violence against women -- and the methods used to read the text. This project ended in an (ongoing) engagement with the possibilities of a liberatory Qur'anic hermeneutics ("Believing Women" in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an, 2002).
Somewhat later, my interests shifted to examining the nature and history of Western epistemic violence against Islam (Islam, Muslims and the U.S., 2004, and Re-understanding Islam, 2008), and I have continued to explore this theme while also writing on a number of other subjects, such as Qur'anic and Biblical accounts of the prophet Abraham's sacrifice (2011), dominant U.S. narratives about September 11, 2001, and Islam, feminism, and secularism (2013). My most recent essay on Islam is to be included in the Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender, to be published in 2015, with online publication of chapters later this year.
My work on the Qur'an has been translated into several languages (Arabic, Bengali, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and Urdu), and I have also been invited to speak about it in a number of venues, both in the U.S. and abroad (Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Italy, U.K, and the Netherlands). I began my career as a diplomat in Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs but was terminated on the orders of the country's military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, for having criticized him. I then worked briefly as the assistant editor of an opposition paper, the Muslim, before leaving for the U.S. where I eventually received political asylum. As a writer, I published poetry, short-stories, and a weekly column (in the Muslim).
My educational trajectory is also rather eclectic. I have a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy (Kinnaird College, Pakistan), an M.A. in Journalism (University of the Punjab, Pakistan), and an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Studies (Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver).
For a full list of my work history and publications, please see my c.v.