Karen Ruffle



Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • South Asian religions
  • Islam
  • Shiʿism
  • Material culture
  • Religious built space
  • Alternate archives
  • Religious sensorium
  • Cultural memory
  • Ritual
  • Devotional literature and hagiography
  • India; Pakistan



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 Shi’ism (2011) and Everyday Shiʿism in South Asia (2021). Her current projects include a monograph titled, Building the City of Haidar: Kingship, Urban Space, and Shiʿi Ritual in Qutb Shahi Hyderabad and a large-scale study of South Asian Shiʿi material culture and sensorial practices titled, Baraka Bodies: Shiʿi Materiality, the Sensorium, and Ritual in India and Pakistan.


Karen is co-Editor in Chief of the 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, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
MA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
BA, Middlebury College