As an anthropologist and social historian, Zulfikar Hirji is interested in how human societies articulate, represent and perform understandings of self, community and other. His research focuses on Muslim societies in a range of historical and contemporary contexts. He is particularly concerned with the diverse ways in which Muslims express and articulate issues of deep human concern as well as matters of daily life. He also interrogates knowledge produced about Muslims, by academics and others. His research interests have lead him to study a range of issues including the production and performance of identity, the roles of art, artists and cultural workers in making social change, the dynamics of family networks and inter-generational migration, the socio-legal formation of communal identity in colonial and nationalist contexts and in religiously plural societies. He has conducted archival research and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in various parts of the world including East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, Europe and North America. He has published his research in a number of journals, encyclopaedic works and books. He is co-author and editor of The Ismailis, an Illustrated History (2008), editor of Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts (2010) and Between Empires (2012). ‘Pushpanjali: a sensory invocation’ (2011) is his first film and is part of an on-going research project on the life and work of Tehreema Mitha.
Keywords: Muslim societies; production and performance of identity; roles of art, artists and cultural workers in making social change; socio-legal formation of communal identity; family networks and inter-generational migration; South Asian Diaspora