Talal Asad

Most Influential Person

Anthropologist at the CUNY Graduate Center

Why Is Talal Asad Influential?

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Talal Asad is emeritus distinguished professor of anthropology for the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He earned his B.Litt from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Letters and Ph.D from the University of Oxford. He is noted for his contributions to theoretical secularism.

His work in secularism challenges the actual impacts of separation of church and state, or the secular and the religious, suggesting that in so doing, the government becomes too distant from the cultural norms and expectations of conduct held by their citizenry. He felt Europe, in particular, was creating an environment in which Islam was still viewed as distinctly different from European religious traditions.

He is the author of The Kababish Arabs: Power, Authority and Consent in a Nomadic Tribe, and most recently, Secular Translations: Nation-State, Modern Self, and Calculative Reason. He was the editor of Anthropology & the Colonial Encounter and a former professor of University of Hull, New School for Social Research, University of Khartoum, and Johns Hopkins University.

His expertise in Islam, religion, government, and the Middle East is internationally recognized, and he has sat on the Economic and Social Research Council for both the United States and England.

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According to Wikipedia, Talal Asad is a Saudi-born cultural anthropologist who is currently a professor of anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. His prolific body of work mainly focuses on religiosity, Middle Eastern studies, postcolonialism, and notions of power, law and discipline. He is also known for his writing calling for an anthropology of secularism. His work has had a significant influence beyond his home discipline of anthropology. As Donovan Schaefer writes:The gravitational field of Asad’s influence has emanated far from his home discipline and reshaped the landscape of other humanistic disciplines around him.

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Talal Asad's Published Works

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