♦    Social-cultural and Political Anthropology

♦    Islam, Politics, & Muslim Socio-cultural Formations: South Asia, Middle East and the West

♦    Social Theories, Cultural Criticism

♦    Identity, Alterity & Power

♦    Democracy, the Media and Violence

♦    Culture, Religion and Politics of Modern South Asia (especially, postcolonial India)

♦    Nationalism, Transnationalism and Globalization

♦    Religion, the Secular, & Secularization

♦    Intellectual History, Social Movements

♦    Literature, Culture and Society


For the next few years, Irfan’s research will focus on anthropological exploration of the premises and the working of liberalism, nationalism, theory and practices of democracy, the media, the subalternated collectivities and diverse forms of collective actions (social movements). In particular, Irfan is interested in the relationships between the media, violence, terrorism and democracy. Through an in-depth examination of Indian Muslims, he aims to develop a framework of understanding the religious and political life of Muslims in contemporary India. The significant debate on “India’s rise” –economic as well as political –is part of this larger research question.

A pivotal comparative question for Irfan is how the figure of minority is fashioned and how this figure negotiates its identity in liberal, secular democratic nation-states such as those in the West and in India. The broader objective of this research is to attempt to offer a fresh framework of unravelling the workings and premises of the conjunctions amongst democracy, the media, nation and liberalism. This research is tailored towards writing an anthropologically-grounded political history of Muslims in post-colonial India on a broader canvass encompassing regions, issues, institutions, personalities and organizations.

Irfan is currently working on book manuscript on the notions and practices of critique in contemporary Islamic traditions and the ways in which they (un)relate to the Western traditions. The key assumption of this work-in-progress manuscript is that to construe the Western notion of critique derived from Enlightenment’s conceptualization of reason as critique per se is limiting for there are non-Enlightenment modes of critique such as the Islamic one. Its aim is to historically explore the specificities of forms, modalities and functions of critique in Islamic traditions in contemporary south Asia, focussing on the debates within Jamaat-e-Islami as well as between Jamaat-e-Islami and other Muslim movements/groups.

Irfan Ahmad’s broad and diverse research interests are also evident in his supervision of various levels of theses at Monash University. The themes of theses he supervises range from the practices and popularity of yoga and Hinduism in Melbourne, religious pluralism in Turkey, religion and women’s novels in English, comparing the Indian and Chinese economic rise in the late twentieth century, contemporary intellectuals and their modes of engagement with religious knowledge in Indonesia, thoughts of Muhammad Iqbal and Said Nursi, globalization and fundamentalism, educational aspects of the Gulen Movement, religious pluralism in Islamic tradition, media, conflict and discourses on Islam, dynastic rule, women and charisma in South Asia, to the Great Power Game in the Middle East.


Postgraduate supervision

Current Supervision of PhD Candidates




Nicholas Moriesson
Religion and Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe


Main: Dr. Irfan Ahmad

Associate: A/P DR. Mark Chou
Associate: Prof. Bryan Turner

Completed PhD Theses





Mahsheed Ansari(Monash University)
The rational and metaphysical notions of prophethood and the Prophet Muhammad in the thought of Said Nursi and Muhammad Iqbal


Associate: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
Main:Dr Salih Yucel
Ayse Guc(AUC)
Socio-Anthropological Analysis of Intercultural Dialogue, Merdin
Associate: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
Main: Dr. Ismail Albayrak
Co: Dr. Marian de Souza
Amrah Abdul Majid(Monash University)
The practice of faith and personal growth in three novels by Muslim women writers in the Western diaspora
Associate: Irfan AhmadAssociate: Prof. Harry AvelingMain: Prof. Marika Vicziany


PhD Candidates Supervised at Monash University




Kim Chan Contrasts in Development: China and India, 1950 – 1980 Main: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
Associate: Dr. Warren Sun
Usep A. Matin The Use of Hadith Literature by Traditional Islamic Intellectuals in Indonesia Associate: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
Main: Prof Greg Barton
Associate: Dr Julian Millie
Michele Huppert Religious Fundamentalisms in the 21st Century: Solutions to the Problems of Identity in a Globalised World? Main: Dr. Michael Janover
Co: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
Cemen Polat The Gulen Movement’s Educational Philanthropy: Schools as Social Business Enterprises Main: Prof Greg Barton
Co: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
MR Mark Stone Neither Shall They Grieve: A Study of the Spiritual Basis of Islamic Pluralism Main Supervisor: Dr. Slaih Yucel
Associate: Dr. Irfan Ahmad

Completed Masters Theses at Monash University




Trevor Walsh  Yoga In Melbourne! How is This Possible?  Main: Dr. Irfan Ahmad
Associate: Dr Wendy Smith
Haybatullah M. Abouzeid An Analytical Approach to the Thought and Ideology of B. Lewis and John Esposito Main: Dr. Slaih Yucel
Associate: Dr. Irfan Ahmad

Completed Honours and MA Dissertations at Monash University

Student Topic Level
Jonathan Major Seeds of Anger: The Hussein/McMahon Correspondence, Palestine and Post-Islamist Terrorism MA Major
Sinem Doyran (Re)presenting Islam: A Critical Analysis of Australian Discourses after 9/11 MA Major
Reem Hakem For Love of Islam or Nation? The Shaping of Multi-Identity for Muslims in the West MA Minor
Damien Lewis The Significance of Cyber Terrorism: A Case Study of Stuxnet MA Minor
Nicholas Newland The Conquering Charismatics: Charismatic Leadership and Dynastic Rule in Postcolonial South Asia Honours
Nicholas Burris Islam and the Dynamics of Global Politics: Contextualizing the Radicalization of Lal Masjid, Pakistan Honours
Arthur Lau The Kashmir Conflict: Media’s Portrayal Before and After 9/11 Honours