Dr. Tazeen Ali to join faculty of John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics

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The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis is pleased to welcome Tazeen M. Ali, who will join the faculty as Assistant Professor of Religion and Politics. Ali recently earned her doctorate in Religious Studies at Boston University. She will join the Center on July 1, 2019.

“Tazeen Ali is a tremendous addition to the community of scholars within the Center and the broader Washington University campus,” noted Professor Marie Griffith, John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics. “All of us at the Center are very excited that we have successfully recruited this outstanding junior scholar here in the area of Islam in the U.S.”

Ali’s research and teaching focus on Islam in America, women’s religious authority, and Islam, gender, and race. Her dissertation, “Rethinking Interpretative Authority: Gender, Race, and Scripture at the Women’s Mosque of America,” analyzes how American Muslim women negotiate the Islamic tradition to cultivate religious authority and build gender-equitable worship communities.

“Tazeen is a scholar and teacher of great range and depth in the areas of Islam, U.S. religions, and women and gender studies,” Griffith said. “While her research on American Muslims is grounded in deep knowledge of premodern Islam and Muslims’ diverse global histories, it is situated squarely within the scholarly study of American religion and is particularly indebted to important work on Black women’s religious authority. Muslims are the most racially heterogenous religious group in the U.S., and Tazeen’s work pays close attention to the intersection of racial dynamics and gendered authority within the communities she studies. Her work could hardly be more urgent for understanding the complexities of religion and politics in the U.S. today.”

Ali was a visiting postgraduate student in Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh from 2017 to 2018. Prior to that she earned a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Boston University and a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in both religion and biology from Lehigh University. Competitive fellowships and grants from The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Boston UniversityCenter for the Humanities, and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations at Boston University have supported her writing and research.

“My work investigates trends in Muslim women’s religious authority to analyze how American Muslims actively resist white supremacist and patriarchal patterns in and beyond the U.S. context. A key aim of my research is to redirect the dominant discourse away from debating the compatibility of Islam and America, to emphasize that Muslims are already meaningful actors within the fabric of American religious life,” stated Ali.

“The current U.S. socio-political imagination is increasingly shaped by white nationalism, and harmful perceptions of religious and racial minorities prevail. This dynamic creates a critical need for increased engagement between academics, activists, and religious communities. I am delighted to join the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics with its interdisciplinary focus and unique emphasis on public scholarship. I look forward to being a part of the rich and timely conversations that characterize the Center’s work,” she added.

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics was established in 2010 at Washington University in St. Louis. The Center serves as an open venue for fostering rigorous scholarship and informing broad academic and public communities about the intersections of religion and U.S. politics. The Center offers undergraduate courses and a minor in religion and politics, as well as a vibrant public event program.

For more information about the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, visit the websiteat