You are on page 1of 3

Matthew F.

Steele
6 Divinity Ave, Room 106
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Department: (617) 495-5757
Email: msteele@fas.harvard.edu

EDUCATION
Harvard University
Ph.D. Candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Fields: Islam in Africa, Islamic Law, Anthropology of Islam, Book History
Dissertation Advisors: Ousmane Kane, Jean Comaroff
Dartmouth College
M.A. in Liberal Studies, 2012
Thesis Honors: Awarded Nicholas Byam Shaw Award for Thesis Excellence
Swarthmore College
B.A. in Comparative Religion, 2003

RESEARCH & TEACHING INTERESTS


Islam in Africa: Knowledge production in West and East Africa, particularly Sudan, Mauritania, and Guinea |
Development of Islamic law in pre-modern Sahel
Islamic Law: Positive law (Furu` al-Fiqh) | Genre and legal manuals, glosses, and abridgements | Late medieval
legal thought | Formation and decline of law schools (madhhabs)
Anthropology of Islam: Intersection of literature, law, and religion | Cultures of Islamic education | Transmission
of medieval works in contemporary Africa | Islamic law and the everyday
Book History: The social lives of texts | Commentaries and marginalia | How and why books circulate | Making of
textual authority | `Ajami (Pulaar) in West Africa

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
2014-2016 Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Islamic Studies, University of Khartoum (Sudan)

FELLOWSHIPS AND GRANTS


2017 Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship, West African Research Association (Guinea, Mauritania)
2017 African Arabic Script Manuscripts Training Course, Northwestern University
2016 Arabic Codicology Training Grant, al-Furqan and Universidad Complutense Madrid (Spain)
2016 Moroccan Studies Research Grant, Moroccan American Cultural Center (Morocco)
2016 Overseas Research Grant, Harvard Center for African Studies, Harvard University (Guinea)
2014-2015 Traveling Scholar, Harvard University (Sudan and Mauritania)
2015 Overseas Research Grant, Harvard Center for African Studies, Harvard University (Sudan)
2014 Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Grant (Pulaar), U.S. Dept. of Education (Senegal)
2013-2014 Overseas Research Grant, Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard University (Mauritania)
2013-2014 Overseas Research Grant, Committee for African Studies, Harvard University (Mauritania)
2013 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), U.S. Dept. of State (Jordan) (Declined)
2011-2012 David L. Boren Fellowship, National Security Education Program (North Africa)
2012 Nicholas Byam Shaw Award for Graduate Thesis Excellence, Dartmouth College
2011 Kathryn Davis Fellowship (Arabic), Middlebury College Summer Arabic School
2010-2011 Foreign Language Scholarship (Arabic), Georgetown University
2008-2009 James B. Reynolds Scholarship for Foreign Study, Dartmouth College (Yemen)
RESEARCH AND STUDY ABROAD
2014-2016 Sudan Research on Maliki law in Sudan; Seminary study with local scholars (11 months)
2016 Guinea Research on Pulaar-Arabic manuscripts and classical Islamic studies (1 month)
2014 Senegal Coursework in Pulaar (Guinean); Research on Quran reading circles (3 months)
2013-2014 Mauritania Tutorials in law and grammar texts at Islamic seminaries (mahdara) (2 months)
2012 Mauritania Tutorials in law and grammar texts at Islamic seminaries (mahdara) (2 months)
2011-2012 Morocco Advanced Arabic study under David Boren Fellowship (9 months)
2011 Egypt Advanced Arabic study under David Boren Fellowship (4 months)
2008-2009 Yemen Fieldwork for graduate thesis on tribalism and customary law (12 months)

PUBLICATIONS
Text, Body and Law: Naked Prayer in the Commentaries of the Mukhtasar Khalil, Journal of the Middle East
and Africa 8.3 (2017).

CONFERENCES PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS


Of Memory and Mukhtasars: The Making of a Community and Text in Sudan. Paper to be presented at Annual
Meeting of American Anthropology Association, Washington, DC, 30 November 2017.
An Azawadi in `Atbara: Reading the Western Sahel in 19th Century Sudan. Paper to be presented at Annual Meeting
of African Studies Association, Chicago, IL, 17 November 2017.

The Khalil and Commentary: The Making of Legal Literary Canon in West Africa. Paper presented at Texts,
Knowledge, Practice: Scholarship in Muslim Africa, Harvard University, 17 February 2017.
Shinqiti Scholar and Zaydi Imam: Knowledge Transmission in Pre-Modern Sahel. Paper presented at Annual
Meeting of African Studies Association, Washington, DC, 03 December 2016.

Reading Circles, Canonization, and Making of Community: Ethnography of a Texts Transmission in Sudan. Paper
presented at Annual Meeting of American Anthropological Association, Minneapolis, MN, 16 November 2016.
Mastering Law or Experiencing God? Scholasticism, Fiqh, and Religious Expression in Pre Colonial Sudan. Paper
presented at American Academy of Religion Pacific Northwest Conference, Moscow, ID, 21 May 2016.

Shafi`i Students, Maliki Scholars, and Hanafi Laws: The Making of Juridical Authority in Early 20th Century
Sudan. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA, 23 November 2015.
Intellectual History Without Law? Sudan and Legal Literature in the Early Modern Period. Paper presented at
Harvard Universitys Workshop on Arabic & Islamic Studies (WAIS), Cambridge, MA, 14 October 2015.
Law as Commentary: Glossation and the Making of Juridical Scholarship in 19th Century Sudan. Paper presented
at Knowing Islam: Interdisciplinary Seminar on Muslim Epistemology, University of Michigan, 28 August, 2015.
Nazala min al-Shinqit wa Wasala ila al-Tayshit? Tatawarat `Ilm al-Fiqh fi al-Sudan [Arrived from the Shinqit and
returned to Tayshit? The Development of Juridical Knowledge in Sudan]. Invited lecture given in Arabic,
Department of Islamic Studies, University of Khartoum (Sudan), 25 January 2015.
Engendering the Law? Situating Methodology in Islamic Seminary Studies and Fiqh Literature in Sudan. Invited
lecture given to Research Workshop, Centre d'Etudes et de Documentation Economiques, Juridiques et Sociales
(CEDEJ - Khartoum), 07 January 2015.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE
Panel Organizer, Islamic Reform in the Pre-Modern Sahel: Rethinking Change and the 19th Century, Annual
Meeting of African Studies Association, Chicago, IL, 02 December 2017.

Panel Organizer, `Ilm and Knowledge Production in the Islamic World, Annual Meeting of American
Anthropology Association, Washington, DC, 30 November 2017.
Senior Thesis Reader, Plural Languages, Plural Identities: The Social Impact of Arabic, French, and Spanish in
Moroccan Education, Ashley Selena Rincon, Harvard University, 28 March 2017.

Conference Co-Chair, Texts, Knowledge, Practice: The Meaning of Scholarship in Muslim Africa, Harvard
University, 16-18 February 2017.
Chair, Islamic Africa Seminar (IAS), Harvard University, 2016-2017
Panel Organizer, Mobility and Space in the Pre-Modern Sahel: Rethinking Islamic Intellectual History in Africa,
Annual Meeting of African Studies Association, Washington, DC, 03 December 2016.

LANGUAGES
Arabic (Modern Standard): Fluent reading, writing, speaking
Arabic (Dialect): Advanced Sudanese Arabic; Intermediate Mauritanian, Yemeni, and Moroccan Arabic
Pulaar (Guinean): Intermediate reading, writing, speaking