Message from the Dean

Professor Shahzad Bashir

Dean Designate, Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations​

Personal message:


It is a pleasure, and a distinct professional honour, for me to have been selected to lead the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (ISMC). As I prepare to take up the role in June 2024, I look forward to learning a great deal from Professor Anjum Halai ​who, in her role as Vice Provost, Asia and UK, has assumed the responsibilities of Dean, ISMC, in the interim, as well as​ the previous dean Professor Leif Stenberg, and all of ISMC’s dedicated and inspiring faculty, staff, and students.​


 Dr. Shahzad Bashir comes to ISMC and AKU following two decades of leadership experience at universities in the United States. He has served as the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Professor of History and Religious Studies at Brown University since 2017. While at Brown, Dr. Bashir directed the Center for Middle East Studies (2018-20) and established the Islam and the Humanities research project. Previously, Dr. Bashir was a faculty member at Stanford University for ten years (2007-17), serving as the Lysbeth Warren Anderson Professor in Islamic Studies and director of the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.


Dr. Bashir’s scholarly work covers Islamic history and thought in the Middle East and South and Central Asia over many centuries. He received his BA summa cum laude from Amherst College (1991) and his PhD from Yale University (1998). The author of five books and over 40 articles, Dr. Bashir’s most recent book is an Open Access multi-modal digital monograph entitled A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures (MIT Press, 2022). His earlier published work has focused on understandings of time, poetry, the human body, Sufism, and Shi’ism. He is currently working in two areas: an extended argument for using anamorphic aspects of photography to theorize how we understand and narrate the past; and a cultural history of India during the period 1750-1850 deriving from a vast corpus of material that has received little attention to date. As in his previous work, Dr. Bashir’s new projects correlate between literary evidence in many languages, material culture in the form of art and the built environment, and humanistic and social scientific theories and methods.


Dr. Bashir is the recipient of numerous prestigious US academic fellowships for his work, including the American Council of Learned Societies, the Carnegie Corporation, Einstein Centre Chronoi, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Stanford Humanities Center. In 2020, he received Brown University’s Presidential Faculty Award. In addition to his own research, he edits the book series Islamic Humanities (University of California Press), co-edits the series Islamicate Intellectual History (Brill), and serves as an associate editor of the flagship journal History and Theory: Studies in the Philosophy of History.