Jamal J. Elias

Fellow: Awarded 2012

Field of Study: Near Eastern Studies

Competition: US & Canada

Website: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/religious_studies/faculty/elias

Jamal J. Elias is Class of 1965 Endowed Term Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of South Asia Studies, and is a member of the Graduate Groups in Ancient History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

He earned his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University in 1991, after having gotten an M.A. in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Stanford University. Before joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, he taught at Amherst College, Brown University, and Yale University.

He is the author, coauthor, or editor of eight books and numerous articles dealing with a range of topics in Islamic history, thought, literature, and art. His most recent books are On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford, 2011) and Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge, forthcoming in 2012); and previous writings by him have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese, Persian, Portugese, Turkish, and Urdu.

While a Guggenheim Fellow, he will pursue a major research project on the history of the Mevlevi Sufi order (sometimes called the "Whirling Dervishes") from its inception in the 13th century until the advent of the modern era.