Zainab Mahmood

Zainab Mahmood
Assistant Professor Faculty Fellow of Liberal Studies

Zainab is currently an Assistant Professor Faculty Fellow of Liberal Studies in NYU Shanghai’s Go Local program. She also serves as Secretary/Vice-Chair for the International Comparative Literature Association’s Research Committee on Religion, Ethics and Literature. Zainab earned her MA from Harvard University's Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department, and her PhD in Arabic and Persian Literature from NYU's Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies department. She has served as Assistant Director of the South Asia Institute at Columbia University.

Zainab is a scholar of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu literary sources. She focuses on the exegetical, philosophical, poetic, mystical and travel writing produced and circulated in pre-modern Islamic centers of knowledge. She regards the pre-modern Islamic world as multilingual and multicultural, producing a thriving book culture that prized literary exchanges across genre, geographic and linguistic lines. She is particularly interested in the points of contact produced by this culture of circulation, and how these texts continue to be received in increasingly global, colonial and post-colonial contexts. Zainab also focuses on British and American Muslim cultural and literary expression in English writing, and the effects of colonialism on Muslim experiences and expression.  


  • PhD, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
    New York University