I came to Johns Hopkins in 2014 with a joint appointment in Sociology and Islamic Studies. I am particularly interested in Islamic law, jurisprudence (fiqh), and pious practice under conditions of contemporary capitalism and globalization. I received an A.B. from Harvard (Inner Asian and Altaic Studies) and an MA and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley (Sociology). During the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, I wrote from Benghazi for The Atlantic and Foreign Policy.
My current project is on the Islamic finance industry, which emerged in the 1970s at the intersection of modernist Islamic economics, Islamic revival, and the oil shocks. I study how 21st-century financial institutions express and construct piety through shariah-compliant loans, asset-backed securities, equity funds, and derivatives.
My next project, tentatively titled “The Halal Boom,” will investigate the spread of formal rationalization — halal certification and labeling — in food, finance, pharmaceuticals, biotech, tourism, cosmetics, and logistics.
230.147 Introduction to Islam since 1800
230.367 Islamic Finance
230.381 Sociology of the Middle East and North Africa
230.445 Sociology of Religion
230.609 Dissertation Seminar
230.635 PGSC Research Seminar
230.649 Qualitative Research Methods: Domestic and International Fieldwork
2019. “How religio-economic projects succeed and fail: the field dynamics of Islamic finance in the Arab Gulf states and Pakistan, 1975–2018.” Socio-Economic Review 17(1): 167–193.
2018. “Shariah with British characteristics” (review essay). European Journal of Sociology 59(3): 408–416.
2017. "Accounts Dialogue: Interview with Ryan Calder” (Kasey Zapatka, interviewer). Accounts 16(2):3–8.
2016. "God’s technicians: Religious jurists and the usury ban in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. European Journal of Sociology 57(2): 207-257.
2015. “Architecture of Markets.” In Robert A. Scott and Stephen M. Kosslyn (eds.), Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage. With Neil Fligstein.
2010. “Efforts to replicate short-selling in Islamic finance: Malaysian innovation in comparative perspective.” In Angelo Venardos (ed.), Current Issues in Islamic Banking and Finance: Resilience and Stability in the Present System. London: Worldwide Scientific.
2007. “Political Sociology.” In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by George Ritzer. Oxford: Blackwell. With John Lie.
“Libya’s cautious optimism.” Contexts. Spring 2013.
“An Islamist, a liberal, and a former regime loyalist walk into a cafe…” Foreign Policy (online). October 21, 2011.
“Remembering Anton Hammerl and his work in Libya.” The Atlantic (online). May 20, 2011.
“The improvised state: Who’s actually running things in free Libya?” Foreign Policy (online). April 20, 2011.
“Life lessons: How are children in Benghazi coping with war?” Foreign Policy (online). April 15, 2011.
“The sounds of the revolution.” Foreign Policy (online). April 11, 2011.
“Can Libya’s rebels go pro?” Foreign Policy (online). April 8, 2011.
“Benghazi diary: Three weeks in the revolutionary heartland of eastern Libya.” Foreign Policy (online). April 7, 2011.
“Why Libya’s rebels are stalled.” The Atlantic (online). April 7, 2011.
“The accordion war: Libya’s ever-moving front.” The Atlantic (online). April 5, 2011.