Edith Szanto, Associate Professor

Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences 
Office: B-F2-15
Dr. Szanto teaches Middle Eastern History, Western Civilization, Comparative World Religions, and Islam. Her research focuses on Islam in the modern Middle East. She has published in the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the International Journal for Middle Eastern Studies. To date, her work has mainly centered on Twelver Shi'i practices in Syria, where she spent three years as a Fulbright scholar researching popular Islamic practices and working for the UN. Currently, she works on gender and Sufism in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Dr. Szanto is ranked among the top 0.1% scholars world-wide on academia.edu.
Languages: Arabic, English, German, Hungarian
Areas of interest: Islam, Zoroastrianism, Sufism, Syria, Kurdistan, Iraq, ritual, religious education, religious discourse


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2018 “Mourning Halabja on Screen: Or Reading Kurdish Politics Through Anfal Films,” Review of Middle East Studies51 (1): 135-146.

2018 “‘Zoroaster was a Kurd!’: Neo-Zoroastrianism among Iraqi Kurds,” Iran and the Caucasus22 (1): 96-110.

2018 “Challenging Transnational Shi‘i Authority in Ba‘th Syria,”British Journal of Middle East Studies 45 (1): 95-110.

2016 “Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising,” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 12 (3): 306-322.
Impact factor: 0.75

2013 “Contesting Fragile Saintly Traditions: Miraculous Healing among Twelver Shi‘is in Contemporary Syria,” in Politics of Worship in the Contemporary Middle East: Sainthood in Fragile States, edited by Andreas Bandak and Mikkel Bille (Leiden: Brill), 33-52. 

2013  “Beyond the Karbala Paradigm: Rethinking Revolution and Redemption in Twelver Shi‘a Mourning Rituals,” Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies 6 (1): 75-91. 

2012  “Illustrating an Islamic Childhood in Syria:  Pious Subjects and Religious Authority in Twelver Shi‘i Children’s Books,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East32 (2): 361-373.

2012  “Sayyida Zaynab in the State of Exception: Shi‘i Sainthood as ‘Qualified Life’ in Contemporary Syria,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 44 (2): 285-299.

2009  “Pedagogies of Piety: Shi‘i Children’s Books, Ethics and the Emergence of the Pious Subject,” Symposia: The Graduate Student Journal of the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto 1 (1): 62-78.

2008  “Inter-Religious Dialogue in Syria: Politics, Ethics and Miscommunication,” Political Theology 9 (1): 93-113.

International conference papers:

May 2017 “Hiding the Truth in Plain Sight: Spiritual Healing and Jinn in Contemporary Syria,” a paper presented at The Islamic Multiverse, a conference held at New York University Abu Dhabi.

April 2017 “Mourning Halabja – or the Kurdish Holocaust Industry,” a paper presented at History and Society on TV in the Middle East, a conference held at the University of Maryland.                                                  

December 2016 “When Kurds doubt Islam,” a paper presented at Doubt and Certitude in Islam, an international research seminar held at Aarhus University, Denmark.

November 2016  “The Widows of Karbala,” a paper presented at the Mainstream Muharram: Exploring Political, Religious, and Cultural Expressions of Shi‘a Islam series at the University of Houston.  

November 2016 “Learning Islam in Kurdistan,” paper presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. 

October 2016  “Patronizing Shi‘i ‘Ulama in Contemporary Syria,” a paper presented at the 23rd Annual Congress of DAVO held at the University of Tübingen.  

May 2016 "Rise of Neo Zoroastrianism in Contemporary Kurdisn," presented at the Conflict and Living Heritage Conference at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani 


2016 – present Editor, Syrian Studies Association Bulletin 

2015 – present Member, Class, Theology and Religion Group Steering Committee, American Academy of Religion