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David J. Wasserstein

Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt University

David J. Wasserstein is Eugene Greener, Jr. Professor of Jewish Studies; Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies; Affiliated Faculty in Arabic and Islamic Studies; Member, Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University.

He studies Islamic and Jewish history. With a background in classics, he is also interested in the classical tradition in Islam, and in particular in the ways in which Judaism, Islam and the ancient world intersect culturally, linguistically and politically. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, as well as of The Rise and Fall of the Party-Kings, Politics and Society in Islamic Spain, 1002-1086 (Princeton 1985); The Caliphate in the West. An Islamic Political Institution in the Iberian Peninsula (Oxford 1993); with his late father Abraham Wasserstein, of The Legend of the Septuagint, From Classsical Antiquity to Today (Cambridge 2006), and of Black Banners of ISIS: The Roots of the New Caliphate (2017). He is also the editor (with U. Rubin) of Dhimmis and Others: Jews and Christians and the World of Classical Islam (1997); (with A. Arazi and J. Sadan) of Compilation and Creation in Adab and Luga: studies in memory of Naphtali Kinberg (1948-1997) (1999); (with A. Ayalon) of Madrasa: Education, Religion and State in the Middle East (in Hebrew; Tel Aviv 2004); (with A. Ayalon) of Mamluks and Ottomans, Studies in Honour of Michael Winter (London 2006); (with M. Gammer) of Daghestan and the World of Islam (Helsinki 2006); (with E. Bremer, J. Jarnut and M. Richter) of Language of Religion - Language of the People: Medieval Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Munich 2006); and (with H.M. Cotton, R.G. Hoyland and J.J. Price), From Hellenism to Islam: Cultural and Linguistic Change in the Roman Near East (Cambridge, 2009).

For eleven years he was an editor of Scripta Classica Israelica. He serves or has served on the editorial boards of Israel Oriental Studies, Al-Qantara, Israel Numismatic Research, and other academic journals.

David Wasserstein has received grants and fellowships for research from the British Academy/Royal Irish Academy, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)/EOLAS (Ireland), the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Science Foundation, and the German-Israeli Fund for Scientific Research and Development. He has been a Lady Davis Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a visiting Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study Berlin, and a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, 2008-2009. In 2012, he delivered the Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

David Wasserstein came to Vanderbilt from Israel, where he was a professor of Islamic history at Tel Aviv University between 1990 and 2004. Before that he taught at University College, Dublin (Ireland).

Medieval Islamic history; medieval Jewish studies; Islam in Spain; Islamic numismatics; minorities in the Islamic world; the Islamic State (ISIS)


  • –present
    Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt University