Basit Iqbal
Assistant Professor, Anthropology

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist who works at the intersection of political anthropology, anthropology of religion, and (increasingly) aesthetics. The topics I explore include displacement, refuge, and hospitality, which I approach not just as objects of anthropological critique but also as problems for and of philosophical ethics and political theology. Ethnography anchors this research, as do my readings in critical theory and in the Islamic scholarly tradition. I also have an interest in the topologies of contemporary violence and its possible representation, which has led me back to the question of theodicy (across religious and secular forms of life) in our time of generalized cruelty; and an interest in the figure of “witness” across disciplines, from humanitarian testimony to eschatological reckoning.

I am currently completing a book manuscript titled "The Dread Heights: Refuge and Tribulation after the Syrian Revolution." Based on fieldwork in Jordan and Canada, it elaborates how Muslim humanitarian practices in the midst of the so-called refugee crisis have become the sites of serious theological debate (engaged by refugees, relief workers, and religious scholars alike) over the limits of community, the possibilities of secular translation, overlapping regimes of sovereignty, and the politics (and lacunas) of bearing witness. The book thus provides an ethnographic account of contemporary Islamic ethics in the shadow of mass violence. My second major project turns more directly to aesthetic practices, drawing out the poetics which articulate Muslim life in sites of exile and alienation.

I welcome inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in working on questions of religion and culture, violence and migration, aesthetics and politics.
  • Contact Information
uri icon
  • Websites
Scholarly Activity in McMaster Experts
  • Scholarly Activity
  • Teaching
  • Background
  • Contact
  • View All

selected scholarly activity