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Social and religious history of South Arabia, especially the Cult of Saints; local manuscript traditions; teaching institutions; social stratification; tribal organization.
3111 Thayer Academic Building
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Fields of Study:
• Islam; Islamic mysticism and theology
• Middle Eastern and Eurasian History
Alexander Knysh is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He obtained his doctoral degree from the Institute for Oriental Studies (The Leningrad Branch) of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1986. Since 1991 he has lived and worked in the United States of America and (briefly) in Britain. His research interests include Islamic mysticism (Sufism) and Islamic theological, philosophical, and juridical thought in historical perspective. His recent work has addressed the vicissitudes of Islamic/Islamist movements in local contexts (especially in Yemen, North Africa, Russia and the Northern Caucasus). He has numerous academic publications on these subjects, including seven books. He is currently working on a sequel to his Islamic Mysticism (2000) that discusses the societal, educational, cultural and political roles of Sufi teachings, practices and institutions in the modern and post-modern age. His next book project, tentatively entitled Islam and Empire in the Northern Caucasus, will examine the uses of Islam by the ethnically diverse communities of the Northern Caucasus as the ideology of resistance to the Russian conquest and subsequent domination of the area (from the 1820s until today). Alexander Knysh conducted field research in Yemen in 1986-1989 and 1999 with special reference to the cult of saints as the site of contestation between adherents of traditional Yemeni religiosity and their “fundamentalist” opponents. Since 2005 he has served as section editor for Sufism on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia of Islam, Third Edition (E.J. Brill, Leiden, the Netherlands).
• B.A./M.A. The Leningrad State University, 1974-1979
• Ph.D. Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, The Leningrad Branch, 1986
• Islamic Studies, Middle Eastern and Eurasian History, Comparative Religions
Alexander Knysh CV
Medieval and Early Modern Studies
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