Zulfikar A. Hirji

Department of Anthropology

Associate Professor

Office: Vari Hall, 2040
Phone: (416) 736-2100 Ext: 77783
Emailzhirji@yorku.ca

As an anthropologist and social historian I am interested in how human societies articulate, represent and perform understandings of self, community and other. My research focuses on Muslim societies in a range of historical and contemporary contexts. I am particularly concerned with the diverse ways in which Muslims express and articulate issues of deep human concern as well as matters of daily life. I also interrogate knowledge produced about Muslims, by academics and others. My research interests have lead me to study a range of issues including the production and performance of identity, the role of cultural workers and social movements, the dynamics of family networks and inter-generational migration, the socio-legal formation of communal identity in colonial contexts, and form and context of urban violence in religiously plural societies. I have conducted archival research and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in various parts of the world including East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and North America.

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Degrees

DPhil, University of Oxford, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, 2002
MPhil, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Department of Islamic Studies, 1997
MA, Institute of Ismaili Studies, Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and the Humanities, Department of Academic Research and Publications, 1996
BA (Joint Honours), McGill University, Faculty of Arts, Departments of Religious Studies and Anthropology, 1989

Appointments

Faculty of Graduate Studies

Professional Leadership

ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS: 2015-2016 York Fellow, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto, (Toronto, Canada) 2014- 2016 Graduate Program Director, Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University 2010-PRESENT Associate Professor, Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University CURRENT GRADUATE SUPERVISIONS: 2015- PRESENT Nursel Ozturk, PhD in Social Anthropology, York University 2014- PRESENT Jillian Fulton, PhD in Social Anthropology, York University 2008-PRESENT Nayrouz Abu-Hatoum, PhD in Social Anthropology, York University


Research Interests

Anthropology , History , Islam and Muslim Societies, Visual Anthropology, Anthropology of the Senses

Selected Publications

Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010 ISBN: 9781848853027 For more than fourteen hundred years Muslims have held multiple and diverging views about their religious tradition. This divergence encompasses such matters as authority; ritual practice; political power; law and governance; civic life; and the form and content of individual and communal expressions of their faith. Over the centuries Muslims have regularly debated these issues amongst themselves. However, despite the remarkable diversity of the Islamic tradition, and the plurality of understandings about Islam, Muslims are regularly and erroneously portrayed as internally homogeneous and dogmatic. This important book challenges such propositions by examining the ways in which matters of common concern to Muslims have been discussed by them and examined. The volume explores the processes by which Muslims construct notions of the self, the other and community, and addresses the socio-cultural tools that they employ in so doing. Offering contributions by world-class scholars, "Diversity and Pluralism in Islam" applies insights from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, history, literature, political theory, comparative literature and Islamic studies.

Selected Publications

Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010 ISBN: 9781848853027 For more than fourteen hundred years Muslims have held multiple and diverging views about their religious tradition. This divergence encompasses such matters as authority; ritual practice; political power; law and governance; civic life; and the form and content of individual and communal expressions of their faith. Over the centuries Muslims have regularly debated these issues amongst themselves. However, despite the remarkable diversity of the Islamic tradition, and the plurality of understandings about Islam, Muslims are regularly and erroneously portrayed as internally homogeneous and dogmatic. This important book challenges such propositions by examining the ways in which matters of common concern to Muslims have been discussed by them and examined. The volume explores the processes by which Muslims construct notions of the self, the other and community, and addresses the socio-cultural tools that they employ in so doing. Offering contributions by world-class scholars, "Diversity and Pluralism in Islam" applies insights from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, history, literature, political theory, comparative literature and Islamic studies.

All Publications

Books

Between Empires: Sheikh-Sir Mbarak al-Hinawy (1896-1959) Azimuth Editions 2012 ISBN: 1898592099 A lavish illustrated biography of one of the most famous governors of the East African coast. This scholarly publication uses numerous photographs and is based on newly discovered family archives and other historical sources. It also explores the growth and development of Mombasa from the 19th century up to the 1950s, its Arab and Swahili communities, and its unique cosmopolitain culture.

Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010 ISBN: 9781848853027 For more than fourteen hundred years Muslims have held multiple and diverging views about their religious tradition. This divergence encompasses such matters as authority; ritual practice; political power; law and governance; civic life; and the form and content of individual and communal expressions of their faith. Over the centuries Muslims have regularly debated these issues amongst themselves. However, despite the remarkable diversity of the Islamic tradition, and the plurality of understandings about Islam, Muslims are regularly and erroneously portrayed as internally homogeneous and dogmatic. This important book challenges such propositions by examining the ways in which matters of common concern to Muslims have been discussed by them and examined. The volume explores the processes by which Muslims construct notions of the self, the other and community, and addresses the socio-cultural tools that they employ in so doing. Offering contributions by world-class scholars, "Diversity and Pluralism in Islam" applies insights from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, history, literature, political theory, comparative literature and Islamic studies.

The Ismailis, An Illustrated History Azimuth Editions in association with Institute of Ismaili Studies and distributed by Thames and Hudson, 2008 ISBN-10: 1898592268 ISBN-13: 978-1898592266 Co-authored by Dr Farhad Daftary and Professor Zulfikar Hirji, this book contains some 400 images of manuscripts, artifacts and monuments, community documents as well as important historical and contemporary photographs. Based on modern scholarship in the fields of Ismaili and Islamic Studies, the book offers a comprehensive and accessible account of Ismaili history and intellectual achievements, set in the wider contexts of Islamic and world history.

Current Courses

TermCourse NumberSectionTitleType 
Fall/Winter 2016-2017 AP/ANTH3570 6.0  Anthropology, Islam and Muslim Societies LECT  


As an anthropologist and social historian I am interested in how human societies articulate, represent and perform understandings of self, community and other. My research focuses on Muslim societies in a range of historical and contemporary contexts. I am particularly concerned with the diverse ways in which Muslims express and articulate issues of deep human concern as well as matters of daily life. I also interrogate knowledge produced about Muslims, by academics and others. My research interests have lead me to study a range of issues including the production and performance of identity, the role of cultural workers and social movements, the dynamics of family networks and inter-generational migration, the socio-legal formation of communal identity in colonial contexts, and form and context of urban violence in religiously plural societies. I have conducted archival research and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in various parts of the world including East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and North America.

Degrees

DPhil, University of Oxford, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, 2002
MPhil, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Department of Islamic Studies, 1997
MA, Institute of Ismaili Studies, Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and the Humanities, Department of Academic Research and Publications, 1996
BA (Joint Honours), McGill University, Faculty of Arts, Departments of Religious Studies and Anthropology, 1989

Appointments

Faculty of Graduate Studies

Professional Leadership



ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS: 2015-2016 York Fellow, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto, (Toronto, Canada) 2014- 2016 Graduate Program Director, Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University 2010-PRESENT Associate Professor, Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University CURRENT GRADUATE SUPERVISIONS: 2015- PRESENT Nursel Ozturk, PhD in Social Anthropology, York University 2014- PRESENT Jillian Fulton, PhD in Social Anthropology, York University 2008-PRESENT Nayrouz Abu-Hatoum, PhD in Social Anthropology, York University


Research Interests:

Anthropology , History , Islam and Muslim Societies, Visual Anthropology, Anthropology of the Senses

Selected Publications

Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010 ISBN: 9781848853027 For more than fourteen hundred years Muslims have held multiple and diverging views about their religious tradition. This divergence encompasses such matters as authority; ritual practice; political power; law and governance; civic life; and the form and content of individual and communal expressions of their faith. Over the centuries Muslims have regularly debated these issues amongst themselves. However, despite the remarkable diversity of the Islamic tradition, and the plurality of understandings about Islam, Muslims are regularly and erroneously portrayed as internally homogeneous and dogmatic. This important book challenges such propositions by examining the ways in which matters of common concern to Muslims have been discussed by them and examined. The volume explores the processes by which Muslims construct notions of the self, the other and community, and addresses the socio-cultural tools that they employ in so doing. Offering contributions by world-class scholars, "Diversity and Pluralism in Islam" applies insights from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, history, literature, political theory, comparative literature and Islamic studies.

All Publications

Books

Between Empires: Sheikh-Sir Mbarak al-Hinawy (1896-1959) Azimuth Editions 2012 ISBN: 1898592099 A lavish illustrated biography of one of the most famous governors of the East African coast. This scholarly publication uses numerous photographs and is based on newly discovered family archives and other historical sources. It also explores the growth and development of Mombasa from the 19th century up to the 1950s, its Arab and Swahili communities, and its unique cosmopolitain culture.

Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010 ISBN: 9781848853027 For more than fourteen hundred years Muslims have held multiple and diverging views about their religious tradition. This divergence encompasses such matters as authority; ritual practice; political power; law and governance; civic life; and the form and content of individual and communal expressions of their faith. Over the centuries Muslims have regularly debated these issues amongst themselves. However, despite the remarkable diversity of the Islamic tradition, and the plurality of understandings about Islam, Muslims are regularly and erroneously portrayed as internally homogeneous and dogmatic. This important book challenges such propositions by examining the ways in which matters of common concern to Muslims have been discussed by them and examined. The volume explores the processes by which Muslims construct notions of the self, the other and community, and addresses the socio-cultural tools that they employ in so doing. Offering contributions by world-class scholars, "Diversity and Pluralism in Islam" applies insights from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, history, literature, political theory, comparative literature and Islamic studies.

The Ismailis, An Illustrated History Azimuth Editions in association with Institute of Ismaili Studies and distributed by Thames and Hudson, 2008 ISBN-10: 1898592268 ISBN-13: 978-1898592266 Co-authored by Dr Farhad Daftary and Professor Zulfikar Hirji, this book contains some 400 images of manuscripts, artifacts and monuments, community documents as well as important historical and contemporary photographs. Based on modern scholarship in the fields of Ismaili and Islamic Studies, the book offers a comprehensive and accessible account of Ismaili history and intellectual achievements, set in the wider contexts of Islamic and world history.


Teaching:

Current Courses

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TermCourse NumberSectionTitleType 
Fall/Winter 2016-2017 AP/ANTH3570 6.0  Anthropology, Islam and Muslim Societies LECT