Dr. Kelly Pemberton

Dr. Kelly Pemberton
Associate Professor of Religion and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
2106 G St. NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
United States
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Civil Society

Comparative Research Methods (esp. trans-national comparative research)

Gender and Development

Gender and Islam in South Asia and the Middle East

The Landscape of Religious Authority and Authorities

Migration, Transnationalism, and Identity

Ritual Studies


Dr. Kelly Pemberton has co-edited a volume of essays, Shared Idioms Sacred Symbols and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia (Routledge 2009), and written a monograph, Women Mystics and Sufi Shrines in the Indian Subcontinent (University of South Carolina Press, 2010). Her work has been published in academic journals, encyclopedias, and edited volumes.

Current Research

Her research covers mysticism, the landscape of religious authority and authorities, and civil society in South Asia and the Middle East, especially as these relate to gender.  She also consults on projects focusing on the Middle East and Asia for non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private businesses.


BA, French, Vassar College,

MA, International Studies and Religion, University of Washington

PhD, Religion, Columbia University. 



Women Mystics and Sufi Shrines in the Indian Subcontinent. University of South Carolina Press, 2010

Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia (co-edited with Michael Nijhawan, York University, Toronto) Routledge Press, 2008


"The Politics of Gender in the Sufi Imaginary”, in Islam, Sufism, and Everyday Politics in South Asia. Ed. Deepra Dandekar and Torsten Tschacher. Routledge Books (forthcoming Feb. 2016)

“Sufi Tarikat and the Turkish State: Accommodations and Uneasy Alliances” in Sufism, Pluralism, and Democracy. Ed Sarwar Alam and Clinton Bennett. Equinox Publishing (forthcoming July 2016)

“Sufis and Social Activism: a Chishti Response to Communal Strife in India Today” in In Search of South Asian Sufis, eds. Clinton Bennett & Charles Ramsey. Continuum Books, 2012

“An Islamic Discursive Tradition on Reform as Seen in the Writing of Deoband’s Maulana Taqi ‘Usmani” Muslim World vol. 99, no. 3, July 2009.

For more information on Professor Pemberton's work at GW, please visit her personal homepage or her blog.



Classes Taught

Global Islamic Feminisms

Introduction to Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies

Gender and Islamic Activism

Gender Activism in the Muslim World

Women and Western Religion

Women in Islam

Brand Islam in the Digital Age