Asef Bayat

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Asef Bayat (Ph.D. University of Kent 1984) is the Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies and Professor of Sociology and Middle Eastern studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was Professor of Sociology and Middle Eastern studies and held the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He was the Academic Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) and ISIM Chair of Islam and the Modern World at Leiden University from 2003 until 2009.

He has published widely on issues of political sociology, social movements, urban space and politics, the everyday of politics and religiosity, contemporary Islam, and the Muslim Middle East. He has conducted extensive studies on the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Islamist movements in comparative perspective since the 1970s, the non-movements of the urban poor, Muslim youth, and women, and on the politics of fun.


Asef Bayat was born in the mid-1950s, in a small village located approximately sixty miles west of Tehran in Azeri family. Later, his family moved to the capital city, where his first experience of schooling was with an Islamic institution. He obtained a diploma in a state-run high school, which was located close to the Hosseiniyeh Ershad, where many of Ali Shariati’s followers were gathering. In his last years of high school, he attended Shariati’s popular lectures in the Hosseiniyeh Ershad. However, by this time, he had become an entirely secular teenager, moving into leftist campus politics that he maintained throughout his higher education in the United Kingdom.

Bayat has two children, Tara and Shiva.

Academic career[edit]

After completing his B.A. in Politics from the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences in Tehran (1977), Asef Bayat received his Ph.D. in Social Sciences – Sociology and Politics from the University of Kent from 1978 to 1984. He held a Post Doctoral Research Fellowship at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley (1985).

Since 1986, he taught Sociology at the American University in Cairo for some 17 years in the course of which he also held positions at the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, and was Fellow of St. Antony's College, Oxford University(2000-1).

He was Professor of Sociology and Middle Eastern Studies and holds the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Currently, he is Professor of Sociology and of Middle East studies at University of Illinois.

Asef Bayat is fluent in English, Persian, Arabic, and Azeri.

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Workers and Revolution in Iran. London: Zed Books, 1987.
  • Work, Politics and Power. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1991.
  • Street Politics: Poor Peoples Movements in Iran. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
  • Ortadoğu'da Maduniyet: Toplumsal Hareketler ve Siyaset. [Subalternity in the Middle East: Social Movements and Politics. (In Turkish.) Six essays compiled and translated by Özgür Gökmen and Seçil Deren]. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2006.
  • Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
  • Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010.
  • Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. (co-edited with L. Herrera.) New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Major articles (English)[edit]

  • "Karl Marx and Ali Shariati", Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 9, April 1990 (Cairo), pp. 19–41.
  • "Work Ethics in Islam: A Comparison with Protestantism", The Islamic Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 2. 1992 (London), pp. 5–27.
  • "Un-Civil Society: The Politics of the 'Informal People'", Third World Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1997 (London), pp. 53–72.
  • "Revolution without Movement, Movement without Revolution: Comparing Islamist Activism in Iran and Egypt", Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 40, no. 1, spring 1998, pp. 136–169.
  • “From ‘Dangerous Classes’ to Quiet Rebels: Politics of Urban Subaltern in the Global South”, International Sociology, vol. 15, no. 3, September 2000, pp. 533–557 (USA).
  • “Studying Middle Eastern Societies: Imperatives and Modalities of Thinking

Comparatively”, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, vol. 35, no. 2, Winter 2001, pp. 151–158.

  • “Activism and Social Development in the Middle East”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 34, no. 1, February 2002, pp. 1–28
  • “Islamism and Social Movement Theory”, Third World Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 6, July 2005, pp. 891–908 (London)
  • “Transforming the Arab World: The ‘Arab Human Development Report’ and the Politics of Change”, Development and Change, vol. 36, no. 6, Forum 2005 (The Hague).
  • “Islamism and the Politics of Fun”, Public Culture, vol. 19, no. 3, October 2007.
  • “Radical Religion and the Habitus of the Dispossessed: Does Islamic Militancy Have an Urban Ecology?” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 31, no. 3, September 2007.
  • “Islamism and Empire: The Incongruous Nature of Islamist Anti-imperialism'”, Socialist Register 2008, London, Merlin Press, 2007.
  • Tehran: Paradox City, New Left Review, No. 66, 2010

External links[edit]