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Devin DeWeese will be the Central Asia Visiting Professor in September 2016

Devin DeWeese, Indiana University Bloomington, will be the Central Asia Visiting Professor between 5-17 September 2016. Professor DeWeese will deliver a guest lecture on Monday, 12 September (Lipsius 148, 3pm) and a masterclass on Friday, 16 September within the Central Asia initiative at Leiden University.

Devin DeWeese

Devin DeWeese is a professor of Islamic and Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

He received his PhD in 1985 at Indiana University, and since then has continued to do research on Central Asian Islam, particularly Sufism and its political and social dimensions. He has published major studies of Central Asian religion and history using Persian, Arabic and Turkic manuscript sources he has painstakingly accumulated from collections all over the world. Until 2007, he served as the Director of the Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2006.

His work is widely acknowledged for its importance in Central Asian studies because his precise analysis of manuscript sources helps understand the motivations of the authors of these texts, and places them within the cultural contexts of the manuscript traditions. He is one of a small group of scholars, including Jürgen Paul, Adeeb Khalid, Robert D. McChesney, Jo-Ann Gross, Ashirbek Muminov, Maria Subtelny, Beatrice Forbes Manz, and Stéphane A. Dudoignon, who have worked seriously to debunk prevailing essentialist and ahistorical stereotypes about Sufism, Islam, and politics in the history of Central Asia. Like a very few Central Asian scholars before them, these experts work with equal facility on Arabic, Persian and Turkic, but have also developed working methods that understand concepts and practices of Islam and Islamic communities on the believers' own terms, rather than through biased and invariant concepts.

His most well-known work is Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tükles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition, published in 1994. Called "a truly groundbreaking work" and "an epic book" that has "opened up whole new vistas onto the religious landscape of the Mongol empire and post-Chingizid Inner Asia", the book examines a narrative of Uzbeg Khan's conversion to Islam in the 14th century. It also examines pre-Islamic religious life in Inner Asia, the use of narratives as foundational myths, and the role of Islam and conversion in identity formation. The work won the Albert Hourani Book Award in 1995, and has received praise from many scholars.


Research Interests
Islamic Central Asia, Soviet Central Asia, Sufism, Islamization, religions and Inner Asia, and Islamic hagiography

Recent Publications
Islamization and Sacred Lineages in Central Asia: The Legacy of Ishaq Bab in Narrative and Genealogical Traditions, Vol. I:  Opening the Way for Islam:  The Ishaq Bab Narrative, 14th-19th Centuries / Islamizatsiia i sakral’nye rodoslovnye v Tsentral’noi Azii:  Nasledie Iskhak Baba v narrativnoi i genealogicheskoi traditsiiakh, Tom 1:  Otkrytie puti dlia islama:  rasskaz ob Iskhak Babe, XIV-XIX vv. (with Ashirbek Muminov, Durbek Rahimjanov, and Shavasil Ziyadov, and an appendix by Alfrid Bustanov) (Almaty:  Daik-Press, 2013).

Studies on Sufism in Central Asia, Variorum Collected Studies reprint series (Farnham, Surrey:  Ashgate, 2012), Studies on Sufism in Central Asia, Variorum Collected Studies reprint series (Farnham, Surrey:  Ashgate, 2012).

“It was a Dark and Stagnant Night (’til the Jadids Brought the Light):  Clichés, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia,” for Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 59/1-2 (2016), pp. 37-92.

“Muslims and Infidel Nomads in Timurid Central Asia:  Four Stories from the Religious Frontiers of Mawarannahr in the 14th and 15th Centuries,” in Central Eurasia in the Middle Ages:  Studies in Honour of Peter B. Golden, ed. István Zimonyi and Osman Karatay (Wiesbaden:  Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016; Turcologica, Band 104), pp. 91-102.

“Chaghatay Literature in the Early Sixteenth Century:  Notes on Turkic Translations from the Uzbek Courts of Mawarannahr,” in Turkish Language, Literature, and History:  Travelers’ Tales, Sultans, and Scholars since the Eighth Century (A Volume of Studies in Honor of Robert Dankoff), ed. Bill Hickman and Gary Leiser (London:  Routledge, 2016), pp. 99-117.

Khāns and Amīrs in the Qalandar-nāma of Abū Bakr Rūmī:  Praise of the Islamizing Jochid Elite in a Persian Sufi Work from Fourteenth-Century Crimea,” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, 21 (2014-2015 = Festschrift for Thomas T. Allsen in Celebration of His 75th Birthday, ed. P. B. Golden, R. K. Kovalev, A. P. Martinez, J. Skaff, and A. Zimonyi [Wiesbaden:  Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015]), pp. 53-66.

“Telling Women’s Stories in 16th-Century Central Asia:  A Book of Guidance in Chaghatay Turkic for a Royal Lady of the Bukharan Court,” Oriens, 43/1-2 (2015), pp. 154-222.

“A Sixteenth-Century Interpretation of the Islamization of the Mongols Attributed to Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī,” for Mawlana Rumi Review, 5 (2014), pp. 88-105.

“Shamanization in Central Asia,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 57 (2014), pp. 326-363.

“ʻAlāʼ al-Dawla Simnānī’s Religious Encounters at the Mongol Court near Tabriz,” in Politics, Patronage and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th-15th Century Tabriz, ed. Judith Pfeiffer (Leiden:  Brill, 2014), pp. 35-76.

“Intercessory Claims of Ṣūfī Communities during the 14th and 15th Centuries:  ‘Messianic’ Legitimizing Strategies on the Spectrum of Normativity,” in Unity in Diversity:  Mysticism, Messianism and the Construction of Religious Authority in Islam, ed. Orkhan Mir-Kasimov (Leiden:  Brill, 2014), pp. 197-219.

“Aḥmad Yasavī in the Work of Burhān al-Dīn Qïlïch:  The Earliest Reference to a Famously Obscure Central Asian Sufi Saint,” Asiatische Studien/Études asiatiques (Bern), 67/3 (2013), pp. 837-879.

 “The Yasavī Presence in the Dasht‑i Qïpchaq from the 16th to 18th Century,” in Islam, Society and States across the Qazaq Steppe, 18th-Early 20th Centuries, ed. Niccolò Pianciola and Paolo Sartori (Vienna:  Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013; Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, 844. Band), pp. 27-67.

 “Sacred Descent and Sufi Legitimation in a Genealogical Text from Eighteenth-Century Central Asia:  The Sharaf Atāʼī Tradition in Khwārazm,” in Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim SocietiesThe Living Links to the Prophet, ed. Morimoto Kazuo (London:  Routledge, 2012), pp. 210-230.

“‘Dis-ordering’ Sufism in Early Modern Central Asia:  Suggestions for Rethinking the Sources and Social Structures of Sufi History in the 18th and 19th Centuries,” in History and Culture of Central Asia/Istoriia i kul’tura Tsentral’noi Azii, ed. Bakhtiyar Babadjanov and Kawahara Yayoi (Tokyo:  The University of Tokyo, 2012), pp. 259-279.

“The ‘Competitors’ of Isḥāq Khwāja in Eastern Turkistan:  Hagiographies, Shrines, and Sufi Affiliations in the Late Sixteenth Century,” in Horizons of the World:  Festschrift for Isenbike Togan/Hududü’l-Alem:  İsenbike Togan’a Armağan, ed. İlker Evrim Binbaş and Nurten Kılıç-Schubel (Istanbul:  İthaki Press, 2011), pp. 133-215.

“Survival Strategies:  Reflections on the Notion of Religious ‘Survivals’ in Soviet Ethnographic Studies of Muslim Religious Life in Central Asia,” in Exploring the Edge of Empire:  Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia , ed. Florian Mühlfried and Sergey Sokolovskiy (Münster:  Lit Verlag, 2011 [published January 2012]; Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia, vol. 25), pp. 35-58.

“Ahmad Yasavi and the Divan-i Hikmat in Soviet Scholarship,” in The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies, ed. Michael Kemper and Stephan Conermann (London/New York:  Routledge, 2011), pp. 262-290.

Earlier publications



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