York Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
As an anthropologist and social historian, Zulfikar Hirji is interested in how human societies articulate, represent and perform understandings of self, community and other. His research focuses on Muslim societies in a range of historical and contemporary contexts. He also interrogates knowledge produced about Muslims, by academics and others. His research interests have lead him 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. He has conducted archival research and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in various parts of the world including East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and North America. He is the author of Between Empires: Sheikh-Sir Mbarak al-Hinawy, 1896–1959 (2012) and (with Farhad Daftary) of The Ismailis: An Illustrated History (2008), as well as editor of Diversity and Pluralism in Islam: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims (2010). During his fellowship year at PIMS he will be working on Islam, an Illustrated Journey, scheduled for publication in 2017. Covering nearly 1400 years of history in four main sections (dynastic campaigns, geographic passages, thematic routes, and personal itineraries), the book will include extensive sections on the life and culture of Muslims in the medieval period and their engagement with Christianity and Judaism in different settings.