Devin A. DeWeese

Devin A. DeWeese

Professor, Central Eurasian Studies

Adjunct Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Adjunct Professor, Religious Studies


  • Ph.D., Indiana University, 1985

Research interests

  • History of the Yasavī, Kubravī, and Naqshbandī Sufi Traditions
  • Organizational developments and the transmission of authority in Sufi communities
  • History and narrative evocations of Islamization in Inner Asia
  • Shrine traditions and the sacred landscape of Central Asia
  • Islam in Tsarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet Central Asia

About Devin A. DeWeese

I have taught at Indiana University since 1986. My teaching and research are focused on the religious history of Islamic Central and Inner Asia, chiefly in the post-Mongol era, with special attention to problems of Islamization, the social and political roles of Sufi communities in the region, and hagiographical literature in Persian and Chaghatay Turkic. These issues have inevitably led me into the study of neighboring regions, from Iran and Anatolia to South Asia, and of diverse periods within the Islamic era, but they also have led me to examine broader questions regarding the role of religious affiliations and ritual patterns in shaping social identities for communities large and small. My work has been shaped by a commitment to approach Central Asian history from the perspectives of religious studies, and Islamic studies, and thus to balance the heavily Russocentric and 'Sovietological' approach that continues to dominate the study of Central Asia in the modern era.


Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tükles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994; Series "Hermeneutics: Studies in the History of Religions").

Recent articles & other publications

"Survival Strategies: Reflections on the Notion of Religious 'Survivals' in Soviet Ethnographic Studies of Muslim Religious Life in Central Asia," Socialist Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia (Halle: Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung, forthcoming), 31 typescript pages.

"Ahmad Yasavi and the Divan-i Hikmat in Soviet Scholarship," The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies, ed. Michael Kemper and Stephan Conermann (London/New York: Routledge, 2011), pp. 262-290.

"Succession Protocols and the Early Khwajagani Schism in the Maslak al-ʻārifīn," Journal of Islamic Studies, 22/1 (2011), pp. 1-35.

"Spiritual Practice and Corporate Identity in Medieval Sufi Communities of Iran, Central Asia, and India: The Khalvatī/῾Ishqī/Shaṭṭārī Continuum," Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle, ed. Steven Lindquist (New York/London/Delhi: Anthem Press, 2010), pp. 251-300.

"Central Asia, Islam" Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islamic Studies, ed. Tamara Sonn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010),

"Authority," Key Themes for the Study of Islam, ed. Jamal J. Elias (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2009), pp. 26-52, 382-383.

"The Problem of the Sirāj al ṣāliḥīn: Notes on Two Hagiographies by Badr al Dīn Kashmīrī," in Écrit et culture en Asie centrale et dans le monde turco-iranien, XIVe XIXe siècles / Writing and Culture in Central Asia and the Turko-Iranian World, 14th-19th Centuries, ed. Francis Richard and Maria Szuppe (Paris: Association pour l'Avancement des Études Iraniennes, 2009; Studia Iranica, Cahier 40), pp. 43-92.

"Islamization in the Mongol Empire," The Cambridge History of Inner Asia: The Chinggisid Age, ed. Nicola Di Cosmo, Allen J. Frank, and Peter B. Golden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 120-134.

"Orality and the Master-Disciple Relationship in Medieval Sufi Communities (Iran and Central Asia, 12th-15th centuries)," Oralité et lien social au Moyen Âge (Occident, Byzance, Islam): parole donnée, foi jurée, serment, ed. Marie France Auzépy and Guillaume Saint-Guillain (Paris: Collège de France - CNRS/Centre de Recherche d'Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance, Monographies 29, 2008), pp. 293 307.

"Aḥmad Yasavī and the Dog-Men: Narratives of Hero and Saint at the Frontier of Orality and Textuality," Theoretical Approaches to the Transmission and Edition of Oriental Manuscripts: Proceedings of a Symposium Held in Istanbul, March 28 30, 2001, ed. Judith Pfeiffer and Manfred Kropp (Beirut: Orient-Institut/Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2007; Beiruter Texte und Studien, 111), pp. 147 173.

"The Legitimation of Bahā' ad Dīn Naqshband," Asiatische Studien/Études asiatiques (Bern), 50/2 (2006), pp. 261 305.

"'Stuck in the Throat of Chingīz Khān:' Envisioning the Mongol Conquests in Some Sufi Accounts from the 14th to 17th Centuries," History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East: Studies in Honor of John E. Woods, ed. Judith Pfeiffer and Sholeh A. Quinn in collaboration with Ernest Tucker (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), pp. 23 60.

"The Predecessors of Navā'ī in the Funūn al balāghah of Shaykh Aḥmad b. Khudāydād Ṭarāzī: A Neglected Source on Central Asian Literary Culture from the Fifteenth Century," Journal of Turkish Studies, 29/1 (2005; = Festschrift for Eleazar Birnbaum), pp. 73 164.

"Islam and the Legacy of Sovietology: A Review Essay on Yaacov Ro'i's Islam in the Soviet Union," Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford), 13/3 (2002), pp. 298 330. [doi:10.1093/jis/13.3.298]

Recent courses

  • Religion and Power in Islamic Central Asia
  • Islamization in Inner Asia
  • Islam in the Soviet Union and Successor States
  • Islamic Hagiography of Central Asia

Awards & Honors

  • Carnegie Scholars Fellowship, 2006-2008
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1998
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1992-1993