Shiraz Hajiani, PhD

hajiani @ islamicate.net
Curriculum Vitae

I am scholar of religion and history and am an accomplished educator, researcher, mentor and communicator with over a decade of experience in teaching and advising undergraduates, graduates and continuing education students. I use multi-disciplinary approaches, including digital humanities methodologies, to study and teach religion and history. I specialise in Islamic history and thought, Shiʿism, Ismaili studies and with regional expertise in the study of the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South Asia

Education and Research



University of London
Queen Mary College (Chemistry)
School of Oriental and African Studies
(‘minor': Islamic Studies)


Harvard Divinity School


University of Chicago
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations


University of Chicago
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

MA Thesis: Enemies of the State: Constructions of the Ismāʿīlīs in the Siyāsat-nāma (Book of Government) of Niẓām al-Mulk

The thesis examines religion and history in the Middle Periods, and boundary formations through the construal by Muslims of other Muslims as the "religious other" in the era of Sunni revival at the end of the "Shiʿi Centuries”.

Thesis Advisors: John E. Woods and Franklin Lewis

Doctoral Dissertation: Reconstructing Alamut: New Approaches to the Study of the Qiyāma and the Nizari Polity in Iran.

The dissertation examines the development of doctrines of imamate and Islamic eschatology in early Nizari Ismaili Shiʿism and the historiography and history of the Nizari polity (1090-1256). Using multi-disciplinary approaches of historical, textual and narrative analyses as well as innovative tools of digital humanities, this research on the doctrinal, social, institutional, intellectual, political histories and thought, recovers subdued factional voices and traces of non-extant Nizari doctrinal texts which are fragmentarily embedded in Persian historical chronicles and maps not only conflicts but also the complex relations between the Nizaris and their adversaries: the Sunni ʿAbbasids, Saljuqs and Mongols.

Dissertation Committee: John E. Woods, Farhad Daftary and Paul Walker


U.S. State Department Fulbright Research Fellowship (2017-2018)

Commenced a second multi-year research project, beginning with ethnographic work in Tajikistan, to study religion in Central Asia before, during and after the Soviet period.

Under the aegis of the US Embassy, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, provided research methods training for Kyrgyzstan State Commission on Religious Affairs. Consulted with State Commission leadership on strategic planning for research. Coached Commission’s researchers to optimise work-flows, data analysis and reporting. Presented lectures at madrasas, universities and academic venues as part of US State Department outreach

Zidi Valley, Tajikistan, © Shiraz Hajiani 2020

Teaching Experience


Adjunct Professor (2021)

Tufts University, Department of History, Medford, MA
Middle East from 18th Century to World War One (Fall 2021)


Adjunct Professor (2021-2022)

University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA
Introduction to Islam (Fall 2021-Winter 2022)


Adjunct Professor (2019-2022)

Babson College, Division of History and Society, Babson Park, MA
Modern Middle East (Winter 2022)
People and Cultures of the Middle East (Autumn 2019, Winter 2020, Autumn 2021)
Islamic History and Society (Winter 2020)


Adjunct Professor (2020)

Emerson College, Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, Boston, MA
Islam in the World (Winter 2020)


Faculty and Student Support (2019-2021)

Harvard Extension School, Cambridge, MA
Supported 30+ in-class and on-line undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Coordinated student research and provided weekly reports and feedback on student learning to the lead instructor


Adjunct Professor (2017)

Loyola University, Department of History, Chicago, IL
Survey of Islamic History (Winter 2017)


Academic Preceptor (2010-2015)

University of Chicago Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guided four cohorts of students in the two-year MA-Program. Participated in the review of student applications. Taught strategic study skills, time management and research methods to first-year students. Advised second-year students in choice of thesis topics. Supervised processes of thesis proposals, research, analyses and write-up. Provided academic guidance on a broad range of theses topics (please see listing of Theses Advised). Reviewed final drafts of some forty theses before submission to official advisors. Advised and guided fellowship, job and doctoral research applications


Adjunct Professor (2011-2012)

Lake Forest College, Religion Department, Lake Forest, IL
Islam and Muslim Modernities (Spring 2012)
Conversations between Jews, Christians and Muslims (Spring 2012)
Introduction to Islam (Autumn 2011)


Lecturer (2007-2016)

Univsersity of Chicago, Graham School, Chicago. IL
Courses taught:
Mongol Invasions and Rule in Islamicate Domains (Autumn 2016)
Islamicate Historiography—Constructions of the Past (Winter 2016)
Islamic “Sectarianisms” Past and Present (Autumn 2015)

Marshall Hodgson’s Venture of Islam
-The Classical Age of Islam (600-945) (Autumn 2009; 2013)
-Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods (945-1501) (Winter 2010; 2014)
-Gunpowder Empires to the Modern Middle East (Spring 2010; 2014)

Ismaili History and Thought (Spring 2013)
Nomadic Invasions of Iran—Saljuqs and Mongols (Winter 2013)
Islamicate History through Classical Autobiographies (Autumn 2012)
Shiʿi History and Thought (Spring 2012)
Islam and Construction of the “Other” (Autumn 2011)
Modern Middle Eastern History through Literature (Winter 2011)
Introduction to Islam and Muslim Civilizations (Autumn 2008)

Asian Classics Program—“Middle East Year” (2007-2010)
-Pre-Islamic Arabic Poetry and the Shahnama of Firdawsi (Autumn)
-Sufism Seminar: classical Sufi texts in translation (Winter)
-History Seminar: 13-20th century Islamicate chronicles (Spring)

Gleacher Center, University of Chicago, Photo Credit: https://nativephilanthropy.org/30anniversary/


Lead Instructor (2004-2008) Director (2006-2008)

College Program on Islam, the Nizari Ismaili Community in North America
Co-designed and taught this two-week intensive course on Islam and Muslim Civilisations for 18-25 year-olds in the Ismaili Muslim community in North America. In 2013 established the program in the Middle East.

Teaching Fellowships


Teaching Fellow (2010-2012) 

University of Chicago, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Chicago. IL
Islamic History and Society 600-1000 CE taught with Fred Donner
Islamic Literature and Thought 1000-1700 CE taught with Franklin Lewis
Islamic History and Society 1000-1700 CE taught with John Woods
Islamic History and Society of the Modern Middle East with Holly Schissler

Reading Room of the Oriental Institute, Photo Credit: uchicagoadmission.tumblr.com


Teaching Fellow (2004, 2011, 2019)

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies with Ali Asani [In-class and Distance Learning-Extension School] (2019)
—with Ali Asani and Diane Moore [Distance Learning-Extension School] (2011)
—with Ali Asani [In-class-Faculty of Arts and Sciences] (2004)
Freshman Seminar: Muslim Voices in Contemporary World Literatures taught by Ali Asani (Summer 2004) Developed syllabus, created course content and curated the interactive website with background materials on texts and authors studied in the seminar


Visiting Humanities Fellow (2005-2006)

Aga Khan Humanities Project for Central Asia, University of Central Asia, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Identifying Civil Society (Spring 2006)
Gender, Justice and Worship—taught this research methods course at seven universities in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (Spring 2006)
Negotiating Human Nature (Autumn 2005)
Between the Lines: the Art of Reading (Autumn 2005)

Publications and Works in Progress

Book Chapters

“Divided in Death: Boundary Formations Through Control of Funerary Customs and Ritual Space in a Khoja Community,” In Religious Identities in the Construction of Communal Khōjā Historical Memory, edited by Iqbal Akhtar, and Michel Boivin. Leiden: Brill. (Forthcoming).


Second Fiddle: an examination of the chronology of biographies of Nāṣir-i Khusraw (d. After 1071) and Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ (d. 1124) and its later inversion in the legitimations of authority in Nizari Ismailism (Under review)

Works in Progress

The Life and Times of Our Master: A study of Religion and Society in Islamicate Realms through the lenses of the biography of Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ (Sar guẕasht-i Sayyidnā) and the origins of Nizari Ismailism as well as re-readings of 13-14th century Sunni chronicles and Ismaili doctrinal literature. (Book Project based on Part One of my Doctoral Dissertation)

Annotated Translation from Persian of the Account of the Ismailis in the Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh (Compendium of Chronicles) of Rashīd al-Dīn Faḍl Allāh (d. 1318)

Russian Émigré, Chicago Gangster and the Assassins: Tumultuous Correspondence between Two Field-defining Twentieth Century Scholars and their contributions to Islamic Studies

Digital Humanities at the End of the World: Methodology and Workflows in the Study of Islamic History and Eschatology

Islam in Tajikistan: State Control of Religion and Identity in the Public Sphere

Disarming a Former Ally when Things Fall Apart: Lessons from Iran as the 1970s Largest Weapons Buyer for Saudi Arabia in the 2020s

Fellowships and Awards

2017-2018 US State Department Fulbright Research Fellowship: Tajikistan
2010-2015 University of Chicago: University Gift Fund Tuition Remission
2012-2013 University of Chicago: Humanities Division Research Travel Grant - Archival Research at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London
2011 Harvard University: Distance Learning Teaching Fellowship - Islam and Muslim Civilisations taught with Ali Asani and Diane Moore
2008-2010 University of Chicago: Academic Year FLAS Fellowship
2007-2008 University of Chicago: University Gift Fund Tuition Remission
2006-2010 Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, UK: Doctoral Scholarship
2006-2007 University of Chicago: International House Graduate Fellowship

2005-2006 Aga Khan Humanities Project for Central Asia, Dushanbe, Tajikistan: Visiting Humanities Fellowship
2005 Harvard University: Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship
2004 Harvard University: Presidential Instructional Technology Fellowship
2004 Harvard University: Freshman Seminar: Muslim Voices in Contemporary World Literatures - Course and Website Development Fellowship
2004 Harvard University: Faculty of Arts and Sciences Teaching Fellowship: Introduction to Islam and Muslim Civilisations taught with Ali Asani


Fluent in English, Gujarati, Kutchi, Hindi-Urdu and conversant in Spanish
Primary research language: Persian: work on 12-16th century historical and doctrinal texts. Have edited and translated Nizari doctrinal tracts dated back to the 12th century. Have translated 5 chronicle accounts of the Nizari Polity in Iran. Finalising my annotated translation of the section on the Nizari Ismailis in Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah’s (d. 1318) Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh (Compendium of Chronicles) for publication
Other research languages: Arabic, French and Russian

Islamicate Ventures of 
Shiraz Hajiani, Ph.D.

hajiani @ islamicate.net