20 Nov 2017 12:30pm - 2:00pm CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building


Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series.  All welcome but please email Michelle Maciejewska to book your place and to request readings.  A sandwich lunch and refreshments are provided.

Dr Davd Moshfegh

My manuscript project, Ignaz Goldziher and the Rise of Islamwissenschaft as a ‘Science of Religion’, engages the historical understanding of the emergence and development of Islamwissenschaft from a standpoint distinct from the ‘Orientalism debates’ of the last decades, arguing they have down more to occlude than illuminate it.  Since the work of Edward Said, scholars have become mired in often bitter polemics about whether Orientalism (and the study of Islam, particularly) represented an inherently political, imperialist discourse of subjugation and dehumanization, or an exemplary epistemic venture of growing professionalization or a primarily cultural project of European encounter and projection in an increasingly multi-cultural, global world.  By refusing to choose between Orientalism as politics, knowledge or culture and keeping each of these moments alive, I provide a radically different narrative of the trajectory of Islamwissenschaft by deriving its development out of the ‘science of religion’ tradition in nineteenth century European scholarship.  In reconstructing this scholarly tradition, I argue that our familiar concept of ‘religion’, while putatively encompassing one of the oldest and most definitive aspects of human civilization, emerged in fact within the liberal Protestant theology of the nineteenth century.


Dr David Moshfegh is an IE University, Madrid Visiting Fellow at CRASSH in Michaelmas Term 2017.

David Moshfegh earned his Ph.D. in History from U.C. Berkeley, where his work in European intellectual history focused on the intersection of the histories of academic disciplines, Orientalism and imperialism. His manuscript, “Ignaz Goldziher and the rise of Islamwissenschaft as a ‘Science of Religion’” places the advent of the ‘Science of Islam’ within the nineteenth century context of Protestant and Jewish reformists who competitively historicized and idealized their respective traditions. He is currently working on a second project, entitled, “From Kulturpolitik to Jihad: The Rise of Islamwissenschaft and German Orientalism in the Era of WWI”, that examines the development of this new Islamicist discipline in German Orientalist scholarship in the closing decades of the nineteenth century and tracks the field through the ‘Jihad debate’ within it during WWI. In conjunction with his work in European history, he has undertaken significant research within the Middle-East field on the trajectory of religious minorities in Islamic history. He has co-authored the sections on Jewish communities in the Islamic context for the third edition of Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies and has taught courses on this subject. He began his post-graduate career as a fellow of the Townsend Center for the Humanities, teaching at IE University in Madrid and has since become a Professor of History and Humanities at the institution.  He teaches Humanities courses to Graduate Business students as well as History and Political Theory in the IR program.

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk