Dr Hilary Kalmbach

Lecturer in Middle Eastern History, University of Sussex
Director, Sussex Middle East initiative

Contact Information:
h . k a l m b a c h -- [ a t ] -- s u s s e x . a c . u k

Dr Hilary Kalmbach holds a tenure-track position in the History Department at the University of Sussex roughly equivalent to the US 'Assistant Professor'. She has been asked by the university to direct their 'Middle East initiative' which is setting up a Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and hosting the 2014 Annual Conference of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.

She is a cultural and social historian whose work focuses on Islam, gender, and education in the modern Middle East. Her research focuses on the impact of the processes of reform and modernisation that radically transformed the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Much of her work looks at authority, knowledge, and education, and highlights how Islam, its traditions, and its institutions have been (and continue to be) reinvented to fit within - and even advance - reform projects. She combines area studies and cultural history approaches, and uses close readings of texts to shed light on social and cultural dynamics.

Picture of Dr Hilary Kalmbach

Her article, "Social and Religious Change in Damascus: One Case of Female Islamic Religious Authority," won the 2007 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) Graduate Article Prize. She co-edited the 22-chapter volume Women, Leadership, and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority (Brill, 2012).

Dr Kalmbach previously held a postdoctoral position, the Sir Christopher Cox Junior Fellowship, at New College, Oxford. Prior to that she was a doctoral student at St Antony's College, Oxford, submitting a dissertation on Cairo's Dar al-'Ulum teacher training school. Her graduate studies at Oxford, which began with an MSt in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, were funded by Clarendon and ORS Awards. Before arriving in Oxford, she completed an AB in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and studied female Islamic leadership while a Fulbright Fellow in Damascus, Syria. She honed her Arabic language skills (MSA, Syrian, Egyptian) at Princeton, Middlebury College's Summer Language School, and while completing fieldwork in Damascus and Cairo.

Dr Kalmbach is on the Council of the British Society of Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and is an officer of the Syrian Studies Association (an affiliate of the Middle East Studies Association, MESA). She coordinates BRISMES's Faith, Politics, and Society Research Network and runs a mailing list for academics interested in female Islamic leadership.