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Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies, New York University

February 5th, 2010

Area of Expertise: Migration and Integration, Religion
Geographical Expertise - Region: Asia, North Africa and Middle East, North America
Languages: Arabic, English
Field of Work: Academia, Author/Novelist, Think tank/Research center
City: New York
Country: USA
Continent: North America


Michael Gilsenan Michael GilsenanProfessor Michael Gilsenan is a social and cultural anthropologist whose current position is the David B. Kriser Professor in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University (1995-). He is also Director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Previously, he was lecturer and then reader in anthropology at University College, London (1974-1985) and the Khalid bin Abdullah al Saud Professor at Magdalen College, Oxford (1985-95).

Professor Gilsenan’s doctoral work was carried out on the sociology of Sufi orders in Egypt, a country in which he did research from 1964-66.  He later spent two years in north Lebanon living in a village in the region of Akkar from 1971-72. Since 1999, he has spent nearly three years living and working in Singapore, with 6 months in Java and many visits to Penang for a project concerning the Arab diaspora in the region since the middle of the nineteenth century.  The project discusses its history and the transformation of ‘family’ in that period.  He also spent a year (1959-60) volunteering with the Voluntary Service Overseas organization in what was then Aden and the protectorates. A lot of his writing has dealt with sociological approaches to the study of forms of Islam in the modern world.

Professor Gilsenan has authored three books and is currently working on a study of the Arab diaspora in Southeast Asia.  He has also written numerous articles.  During the first Gulf War, he was interviewed by the BBC thanks to his knowledge of the Middle East and the problems in the region.

Professor Gilsenan studied at Oxford University (BA Oriental Studies, 1963; DPhil Social Anthropology, 1967).

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