Talal Asad

(PhD Oxford, 1968; Dist Prof) Religion and secularism, Islamic traditions, political theories; Middle East (tasad@gc.cuny.edu)

Research interests

I am interested in the phenomenon of religion (and secularism) as an integral part of modernity, and especially in the religious revival in the Middle East. Connected with this is my interest in the links between religious and secular notions of pain and cruelty, and therefore with the modern discourse of Human Rights. My long-term research concerns the transformation of religious law (the shari’ah) in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt with special reference to arguments about what constitutes secular and progressive reform.

Representative publications

  • 2003 Formations of the Secular, Stanford University Press.
  • 2001 “On Re-reading a Modern Classic: W.C. Smith’s The Meaning and End of Religion,” History of Religions, 40(3).
  • 1997 “Remarks on the Anthropology of the Body” in Religion and the Body: Comparative Perspectives on Devotional Practices, edited by Sarah Coakley, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.
  • 1995 “Comments on Conversion” in Conversion to Modernities: The Globalization of Christianity, edited by Peter van der Veer, New York: Routledge.
  • 1993 Genealogies of Religion, Johns Hopkins University Press.