June 21, 2017

Visiting Fellows


Andrew Bush

Andrew Bush photoAndrew Bush is an anthropologist who studies Islamic traditions in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. His ethnographic research in Kurdistan over the last 15 years has addressed topics ranging from Islamic law to Sufi poetry, gender and sexuality, and secular politics. His work combines a close study of textual traditions in Kurdish, Persian, and Arabic with ethnographic research into the everyday lives of Muslims where those texts come to life.

Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University, and his research has been supported by several grants including the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. His writing has appeared in American Ethnologist, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of the Middle East. Andrew was a Humanities Research Fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi, where he was later Senior Lecturer, teaching courses in anthropology, law, and Islamic studies. His first bookexplores a form of religious difference that has been overlooked in the study of Islamic traditions: the difference between Muslims who seek to cultivate piety and become better Muslims, and Muslims who turn away from piety by neglecting prayer and other foundational rites. This book will published by Stanford University Press in September 2020 under the title Between Muslims: Religious Difference in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In 2019 he received a Post-Ph.D. Research Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation to conduct fieldwork in on questions of manhood and masculinity in different forums of Islamic law in contemporary Iraq. Connecting the work of Fatwa Councils in Kurdistan to the work of personal status courts and the history of legal reform across Iraq, this project brings work on gender and Islamic law to bear on the study of men, and ties an anthropology of legal reforms projects to the intimate questions of marriage and divorce that punctuate everyday life.

email: [email protected]

Mary Elston

Mary Elston is a scholar of Islam focusing on the modern and contemporary Middle East. Her research interests are in the anthropology of Islam, religious studies, and Islamic intellectual history, with a focus on education, knowledge, politics, and language.  In May 2020, Mary received her Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Her dissertation, “Reviving Turāth: Islamic Education in Modern Egypt,” combines ethnography and textual analysis to examine the politics, texts, and practices of a traditionalist education movement at Egypt’s al-Azhar, the preeminent institution of Islamic learning located in Cairo. Her dissertation received the Alwaleed Bin Talal Prize for Best dissertation in Islamic Studies in 2020. Her research in Egypt was supported by the Loeb Dissertation Research Fellowship in Religious Studies, the Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Harvard University Center for African Studies. At PLS, Mary plans to turn her dissertation into a book manuscript, tentatively titled “Constructing Tradition: Islamic Turāth in the Contemporary Islamic World.” Her book will take a social scientific and humanistic approach to debates about tradition, knowledge, and Islamic education in the modern and contemporary Muslim world.

email: [email protected]


Gehan Gunatilleke

Gehan Gunatilleke is a lawyer specialising in human rights and constitutional law. His current research focuses on the relationship between identity politics, constitutional discourse, and ethno-religious violence in Sri Lanka. His work aims to understand, through a constitutional lens, the relationship between majoritarianism, Islamist radicalism, and anti-Muslim violence.

Prior to commencing his visiting fellowship at PLS, Gehan was a researcher at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford, and a Research Director at the Colombo-based think tank, Verité Research. From 2015-2018, he served as an advisor to the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry, where he specialised in international human rights treaty compliance.

Gehan is the author of The Chronic and the Entrenched: Ethno-religious Violence in Sri Lanka (2018). He has taught undergraduate and post-graduate courses on human rights, democratisation, and development offered by the University of Colombo, University of Sydney, and the Open University of Sri Lanka. He was also a graduate tutor in human rights law at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.

Gehan’s doctoral thesis in law at the University of Oxford focused on state authority to limit the freedoms of expression and the freedom to manifest religion or belief under international law. Prior to commencing his doctorate, he received a Commonwealth Scholarship in 2015 to read for a Master’s in International Human Rights Law at New College, University of Oxford. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Law School, where he completed an LL.M. in 2010.

email: [email protected]

Mina Khalil

Mina E. Khalil is a legal and social historian of the modern Middle East. Prior to joining PLS, he was a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at NYU School of Law from 2019-2020.  His Ph.D. dissertation entitled “A Society’s Crucible: Recasting the Criminal Defendant in Modern Egypt, 1820-1920” explores the history of the criminal defendant in modern Egypt and the attendant transformations that took place within Islamic law and society. In it, he attempts to piece together the changes in nineteenth-century Egyptian law and society that impacted the criminal defendant—from new prosecutorial powers to new crimes to new methods of proving guilt that also reconfigured the presumption of innocence to new notions of equality before the criminal law. He paints this unique portrait of the criminal defendant drawing from intensive research he conducted in various archives, including the Egyptian National Archives (Dar al-Watha’iq al-Qawmiyya), the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the British National Archives, and Le Centre des Archives diplomatiques de Nantes. He has published in the UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law and has taught Islamic and comparative constitutional law in the Law Department at the American University in Cairo from 2012 to 2013. He has been named a 2020 Dean’s Scholar (University of Pennsylvania), and has received a number of academic fellowships, including the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) Fellowship (2018-2019) and Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Ottoman Turkish. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University (2006) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2011).  He expects to complete his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020.

email: [email protected]

Federica Sona

Federica Sona is a Senior Researcher in the Law & Anthropology Department at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale (Germany). Before joining the MPI, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laboratory of Fundamental Rights, a research centre directed by Vladimiro Zagrebelsky, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights. Prior to that, she was a Visiting Researcher in the Law Department at the University of Turin (Italy) and a Teaching Fellow in the Law Faculty of the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London (UK).

Federica’s academic qualifications include a Laurea in Law (Turin), a post-graduate Specialization Course in Intercultural Communication and Mediation (Turin), a Master of Arts in International and Comparative Legal Studies (London), an International Ph.D. in ‘Law and Society’ (Milan in consortium with Higher Education Institutes in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden), and a second Ph.D. in ‘Law’ (London).

Her main areas of expertise encompass official and unofficial Islamic and Muslim laws; national and international family laws; comparison and interactions between transnational, international and national legal systems (in Western and Muslim-majority countries); Western Islām-s and European Muslim communities; cultural understanding and customary implementation of religious provisions; sharīʿah-compliant socio-legal cultures and normative orders.

Federica’s current research focuses on European Muslim communities interacting with different socio-legal orders, including Common Law and Civil Law systems. Her work pays specific attention to family-related issues encompassing both vertical and horizontal kinship connections.

Federica is involved as convenor, lecturer and expert in the European Judicial Training Network and has lectured at the University of London, the Max Planck Institute, the University of Milan, the University of Turin, the University of Oriental Piedmont, the University of Siena, the University of Lucerne, and the Center of Transnational Law Studies. Her research findings have been disseminated through lectures delivered in several universities in Europe, North Africa, North America, and South Asia.

Federica conducted researches commissioned by the National Council for Research in Italy and the Ministry of Justice in the UK. In 2009, she was appointed the researcher responsible for the Greater London area for the enquiry “A study of Sharia Councils in Relation to Family Law Matters in England and Wales.”

For the last seventeen years, she has also served as an expert and advocate providing legal assistance and advice (predominantly pro-bono and shadow) in proceedings involving Muslim parties and/or Muslim-majority countries’ nationals in Italy and in Great Britain.


Peri Bearman

A History of the Encyclopaedia of Islam coverPeri Bearman is the Islamic Studies editor of the Journal of the American Oriental Society (JAOS) and independent scholar. Until her retirement in 2009, she was the Associate Director of the former Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. She is the author of A History of the Encyclopaedia of Islam (2018); one of five editors of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed. (1960–2004) and of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics (2014); and coeditor of The Ashgate Research Companion to Islamic Law (with Ruud Peters, 2014), The Law Applied: Contextualizing the Islamic Shari‘a (with Wolfhart Heinrichs and Bernard G. Weiss, 2008), and The Islamic School of Law: Evolution, Devolution, and Progress (with Ruud Peters and Frank E. Vogel, 2005). She served as Secretary-Treasurer of the International Society for Islamic Legal Studies (ISILS) from its foundation in 2004 to 2012 and its President from 2015 to 2018.


Andrew Bush

Andrew Bush photoAndrew Bush is an anthropologist who studies Islamic traditions in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. His ethnographic research in Kurdistan over the last 15 years has addressed topics ranging from Islamic law to Sufi poetry, gender and sexuality, and secular politics. His work combines a close study of textual traditions in Kurdish, Persian, and Arabic with ethnographic research into the everyday lives of Muslims where those texts come to life.

Bush holds a PhD in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University, and his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. His writing has appeared in American Ethnologist, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of the Middle East. Before joining PLS at Harvard, Bush was a Humanities Research Fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi, where he also taught courses in anthropology, law, and Islamic studies.

His first book, under contract with Stanford University Press, explores a form of religious difference that has been overlooked in the study of Islamic traditions: the difference between Muslims who seek to cultivate piety and become better Muslims, and Muslims who turn away from piety by neglecting prayer and other foundational rites. Grounded in ethnographic research into ordinary relations of friendship and kinship in Iraqi Kurdistan where Kurdish Muslims navigate this religious difference on a daily basis, the book shows how Muslims creatively reconfigure elements of poetry, sermons, and Islamic history in everyday life.

email: [email protected]
office: Room 323, 1607 Massachusetts Ave.

Nader Hashemi

Nader Hashemi portraitNader Hashemi is the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and an Associate Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He obtained his doctorate from the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and previously was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the UCLA Global Institute. His intellectual and research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics and political theory, in particular debates on religion and democracy, secularism and its discontents, Middle East and Islamic politics, democratic and human rights struggles in non-Western societies and Islam-West relations. He is the author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies (Oxford University Press, 2009) and co-editor of The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future (Melville House, 2011), The Syria Dilemma (MIT Press, 2013) and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is frequently interviewed by PBS, NPR, CNN, Al Jazeera, Pacifica Radio and the BBC and his writings have appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail (Toronto), CNN.com among other media outlets.

Nurul Huda Mohd. Razif

Nurul Huda portraitNurul Huda Mohd. Razif is a social anthropologist and currently a Visiting Fellow at the Collège d’Études Mondiales – Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (CEM-FMSH) in Paris for the summer of 2019. She read Anthropology and French Studies at the University of Western Australia and Sciences Po Paris, before completing her PhD in Social Anthropology at Queens’ College, Cambridge (2018). Her doctoral research, involving extensive ethnographic research in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, explores how changing marriage patterns in Malaysia today and the increasing feasibility of contracting cross-border marriages in Thailand create a favorable climate for polygyny. Since then, her research has expanded into investigating the ways in which sorcery directs and disrupts the flows of intimacy in Malay courtships and marriages.

Prior to joining CEM-FMSH, Razif was based in Leiden, the Netherlands, where she had the pleasure of serving briefly as a Visiting Fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), and then as a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). She is also the current Evans Fellow at the University of Cambridge, a role she will hold in conjunction with the Visiting Fellowship at Harvard Law School’s Program for Law & Society in the Muslim World in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Beyond academia, Razif is an avid traveler, having lived in 10 countries across five continents. She maintains a side appreciation photography and travel writing, in addition to occasionally indulging in Russian classical literature and Asian horror films.


Rashad Ibadov

Rashad Ibadov is the Director of Law Program and an Assistant Professor of Law at the School of Public and International Affairs, ADA University, Baku, Azerbaijan and a visiting professor of law at the Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France.

Ibadov received his Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (2013), LL.M degree on “International Human Rights Law” from the Faculty of Law and Raul Wallenberg Institute, Lund University, Sweden (2004-2006), and LL.B degree (high honor) from the School of Law and Social Sciences, Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan (1999-2003). Ibadov was a doctoral visiting fellow at the Graduate Program of Harvard Law School (2009-2010), and for the previous year a visiting scholar at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ibadov teaches ‘Legal History and Philosophy’, ‘Political Theory’, ‘EU Law’, ‘Law and Ethics’ and ‘International Human Rights Law’ courses, and his areas of research interests include law and religion, political and legal philosophy, constitutional law, citizenship and identity in the post-Soviet space. Ibadov won number of prestigious scholarships, namely, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy Ph.D. Scholarship (EUI/2006-2010); the Swedish Development and Co-operation Agency (SIDA) LL.M Scholarship (Lund University/2004-2006); Atlas Program Fellowship (Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme/ Catholic University of Lille/2017), Erasmus Mundus IMRCEES Visiting Teaching Scholarship (University of Glasgow/2014) and the Civil Society Scholar Award (ADA University/2014-2015).

Farzin Vejdani

Vejdani portraitFarzin Vejdani is an Associate Professor of History at Ryerson University where he teaches courses on the history of Muslim societies, the modern Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, and Middle Eastern and North African cities. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University’s Department of History in 2009 before becoming an Assistant Professor of Iranian history at the University of Arizona (2009-2014). His book, Making History in Iran: Education, Nationalism, and Print Culture (Stanford University Press, 2014), investigates how cultural institutions and a growing public-sphere affected history-writing, and how in turn this writing defined Iranian nationalism. In 2016, it received an Honorable Mention for the Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award. In his other publications, Vejdani has explored the themes of everyday urban crime, folklore, transnational Persian print networks, and connected histories of the Ottoman Empire, India, and Iran. In addition to being the author of three book chapters, he has published articles in the Journal of Social History, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Religious History, the Journal of Persianate Studies, the International Journal of Turkish Studies, the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He is also the co-editor of Iran Facing Others: Identity Boundaries in a Historical Perspective (2012). Vejdani’s current research explores the intersection of space, crime, and the law in the everyday lives of ordinary people in nineteenth-century Iran.

email: [email protected]
office: Room 320, 1607 Massachusetts Ave.



Alessandro Ferrari

University of Paris XI-Institut Catholique of Paris, and an LLB from the University of Modena. He is a member of the Islam Commission of the Italian Home Ministry and of the Islam Group of the Office for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian (Roman Catholic) Bishop Conference.

During his fellowship with ILSP: LSC, Ferrari plans to finalize his research about a common, interconnected Mediterranean history of what has been called, since the nineteenth century, the “right to religious freedom.” The research is divided in four main parts:

I. Muslims in Europe. The “religious lens” towards “Muslims” employed by European state legal systems. The legal status of Islam in Europe: the role of the Muslims and Muslim communities in changing and re-shaping the European model of freedom to religion. The main legal, judicial, and administrative tools that have been developed in response to the Muslim presence in the Old Continent. The effects of the “double transnationalism” of European Muslims (religious/community and state-based). The relationship between EU/ECHRs and single “state-nations.”

II. Diversities on the Southern Shore. The implications of globalization for the definition of a right to freedom of religion in Southern Mediterranean countries: constitutional, legislative and practical reforms. The current debates and the influence of the Northern shore.

III. The Redefinition of Citizenship on Northern and Southern Shores. Declarations and charters of values on the two shores, from the Marrakech Declaration to Cairo and Beirut Declarations, the Bahrain statement, as compared with the Italian, French, and German values charters.

IV. General Conclusions: the role of a refashioned right to freedom of religion in a post-modern and post-secular global order. A redefinition of this right in a period of porosity between religious and secular borders. The role of this right within the construction of a Mediterranean geopolitical space.

Ferrari’s areas of interest are law and religion in Italy and Europe, the dynamics of secularism, laïcité, and the rights to religious freedom especially in relation to the Muslim presence in Europe. Ferrari has been Directeur d’études at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) and Roberta Buffet Visiting Professor at Northwestern University, and will be in residence at HLS during Spring Semester 2019.


Havva Guney-Ruebenacker

Havva Guney-Ruebenacker portraitHavva G. Guney-Ruebenacker is jointly with PLS as a Visiting Fellow and with the Animal Law & Policy Program as a Farmed Animal Law & Policy Fellow. While at HLS this academic year, Guney-Ruebenacker’s research will focus on halal slaughtering in Sunni and Shi’ite Islamic law, comparing the cases of Turkey and Iran. Guney-Ruebenacker received her SJD from Harvard Law School and her dissertation is titled “An Islamic Legal Realist Critique of the Traditional Theory of Slavery, Marriage and Divorce in Islamic Law.” Her research and teaching areas include Islamic law, American family law, contracts, international human rights law, comparative law, European Union law, gender and law, legal history, legal theory, religion and law.

Guney-Ruebenacker’s doctoral research focused on classical Islamic law and modern Islamic legal reforms in the area of slavery and family law with a comparative examination of modernization of American family law in the area of no-fault divorce and its economic consequences. In particular, her work examines the ways in which the institution of slavery influenced the structure and content of traditional Islamic legal theory of marriage and divorce, develops a new theory of Islamic Legal Realism that challenges the historical legitimacy of both slavery and women’s inequality in traditional Islamic law, and advances a concrete reform proposal for divorce and post-divorce economic rights of women in Islamic law.

As a Visiting Assistant Professor, Guney-Ruebenacker taught comparative family law and Islamic law at Boston University School of Law, and was a teaching fellow at Harvard College, Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School for classes in American constitutional history, comparative family law and Islamic law. She worked as a researcher for the honorable judge Lucius Caflisch at the European Court of Human Rights and at the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva. Guney-Ruebenacker served as a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies at University of Oxford and at Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

Guney-Ruebenacker studied both major schools of Islamic law (Sunni and Shiite) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and received a BA in Law from the University of Tehran. She holds an LLM degree from Harvard and also an LLM in European Union law and European legal history from University of Cambridge. She is fluent in English, Turkish, Arabic, and Farsi.


Erum Sattar

Erum Sattar portraitProfessor and Barrister Dr. Erum Khalid Sattar holds a Doctorate in Juridical Sciences (S.J.D. ’17) from Harvard Law School. She teaches water security and policy, environmental law and water law and development at the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, Northeastern University School of Law, and Tufts University. She is currently helping organize a series of conferences on water security for Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

Broadly, Erum studies the institutional architecture of national and international development and has explored British colonial-era water law and policy and its continuing effects in the Indus River Basin. Her current research is a comparison of the instrumental transformation of water law and property doctrines in 18th and 19th century America, the legal and institutional regimes created by the Moors in Spain and their continuing effects in the American Southwest with the colonial-era regime of water control created by the British in India and modern-day Pakistan. She is exploring these legal and institutional histories for their contemporary relevance at a time of growing stress on shared natural resources. She has recently co-authored a paper comparing the Indus to the Colorado River Basin (forthcoming in the Michigan Journal of Law Reform), Sattar, Erum and Robison, Jason Anthony and McCool, Daniel, “Evolution of Water Institutions in the Indus River Basin: Reflections from the Law of the Colorado River” (available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/).

During the PLS Fellowship, she will mainly focus on turning her dissertation into a monograph as well as work on publishing other articles and book chapters stemming from her research.

You can access her papers on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at: https://ssrn.com/author=2769905