Dr Sarah Bowen Savant

Dr Sarah Bowen Savant

Dr Sarah Bowen Savant, Associate Professor, is a cultural historian specialising in the Middle East and Iran ca. 600-1100. She received her MA from the University of Chicago and her PhD from Harvard University. Prior to joining AKU-ISMC in 2007, she was a Sultan Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr Savant is a member of the Institute's Professional Programmes Unit Committee and Chair of the Research Ethics Committee. She is also a member of the AKU University Research Council. She is component coordinator for the Muslim Heritages sequence of the MA in Muslim Cultures. She is also the Principle Investigator for the Arabic Digital Humanities Project, “Knowledge, Information Technology, and the Arabic Book (KITAB)” and runs “Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography,” an annual workshop hosted by the AKU  and SOAS, the University of London. 

​Dr Savant's academic interests include:
  • Early Islam
  • The Study of Religion
  • Historiography
  • Late Antique Iran and Iraq
  • Prophetic Biography
  • Digital Humanities

At AKU-ISMC, Dr Savant has taught the courses:
  • An Introduction to Muslim History
  • Tradition
  • The Sira in Classical and Contemporary Muslim Scholarship
  • The History of the Qur'an in Classical and Contemporary Scholarship
  • The Formation of Muslim Thought
  • Historiography of the Nation

Contact Details
Email address: sarah.savant@aku.edu
Telephone: 020 7380 3859​


  • The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran: Tradition, Memory, and Conversion. Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • The Superiority of the Arabs and an Exposition of their Sciences: A Translation of Ibn Qutaybah’s Faḍl al-ʿArab wa l-tanbīh ʿalā ʿulūmihā. Translated with Peter Webb; Arabic text by James Montgomery. The Library of Arabic Literature. Abu Dhabi: New York University Press, under contract (completion in 2014).
Edited volumes/journals
  • Guest editor, with Konrad Hirschler, of a special issue of Der Islam, 1/2014: “What’s In a Period? Arabic Historiography and Periodization.” Includes an introduction by the editors and contributions from the “Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography” workshop, sponsored by SOAS and AKU-ISMC.
  • Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies: Understanding the Past. Edited with Helena de Felipe. AKU-ISMC Exploring Muslim Contexts. Edinburgh: AKU-ISMC/Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Peer-reviewed articles/book chapters
  • “Iran’s Conversion to Islam and History Writing as an Art for Forgetting.” In “Historiography and Identity towards the End of the First Millennium;” edited volume, organized for the Visions of Community project coordinated by Helmut Reimitz and Walter Pohl. Forthcoming; submission in August 2014.
  • “Naming Shuʿūbīs.” In a festschrift or Ahmad Mahdavi-Damghani. De Gruyter, forthcoming; submitted.
  • “The Conquest of Tustar: Site of Memory, Site of Forgetting.” In Violence in Early Islamic Thought, edited by István Kristó-Nagy and Robert Gleave. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming; submitted.
  • “Introduction” and “Genealogy and Ethno-Genesis in al-Masʿudi’s Muruj al-dhahab.” In Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies, 2014 (see above).
  • “Forgetting Iran’s Pre-Islamic Past, ca. 800–1100 CE.” In History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East, edited by Philip Wood. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • “Persians after the Arab Conquests.” Annales Islamologiques 42 (2008): 73–91.
  • “Isaac as the Persians’ Ishmael: Pride and the Pre-Islamic Past in Medieval Islam.” Comparative Islamic Studies 2, no. 1 (2006): 5–25.
Encyclopedia entries
  • “Genealogy” and “Shu‛ūbiyya.” In The Encyclopaedia of Islamic Political Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.
  • ​Saidi-Sirjani Book Award, given by the International Society for Iranian Studies on behalf of the Persian Heritage Foundation.
  • Foundation for Iranian Studies 2006 Dissertation Prize for best dissertation on a topic in Iranian Studies.