Karen Ruffle

Karen Ruffle

Historical Studies - History of Religions


Karen Ruffle, Professor of History of Religions (UTM) and the Study of Religion (UTSG), specializes in the study of South Asian Shiʿism. Her research and teaching interests focus on devotional texts, ritual practice, and Shiʿi material practices in South Asia. She has conducted field research in India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Her books include Gender, Sainthood, and Everyday Practice in South Asian Shiʿism (2011) and Everyday Shiʿism in South Asia (2021). She is currently working on a large-scale project on Shiʿi material culture in India and Pakistan that will result in two monographs, the first is tentatively titled, Presence, Absence, and Object Agency in South Asian Shiʿism; and the second is tentatively titled, Objects of Devotion in South Asian Shiʿism.

Karen is co-Editor in Chief of the journal International Journal of Islam in Asia, and she is co-editor of the series Religion and Society (DeGruyter). She is the convenor of the international Working Group Sensing Shiʿism, which brings together a collective of junior and mid-career scholars engaging with an emergent field of Shi'i studies engaging with ethnographic, theoretical, and empirical research on material culture, the sensorium, and ritual practice.


PhD in Religious Studies (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)
MA in Religious Studies (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)
BA in Religion (Middlebury College)


  • Shi'ism
  • Islam in South Asia
  • Theories of Sainthood
  • Islam and material culture studies
  • Aesthetics and Indo-Islamic sensoria
  • Indian Ocean studies