Agnes Kefeli Clay

Principal Lecturer
Faculty
TEMPE Campus
Mailcode
4302

Biography

Agnes Kefeli has taught Tatar, history, and religious studies at Arizona State University since 1995. In her award-winning book, "Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy" (Cornell University Press 2014), which received the 2015 Reginald Zelnik Prize from the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, she examines four different areas: popular religion, education, gender, and the frontier. She is especially interested in conversion, popular contestation of official identities, production of religious knowledge, collective memory, and women’s activities in the religious sphere, in the past as well as in the present. Her work draws on fieldwork observations, Russian-language archival documents, and Turkic Sufi sources, which have played and still play an important role in the Islamization and re-Islamization of Eurasia and Central Asia. Several granting agencies, including the International Research and Exchanges Board, the American Association of University Women, the Spencer Foundation, and the Library of Congress, have recognized the excellence of her research. Presently, she is a principal lecturer on the religious studies and history faculties, where she teaches courses on World Religions, Global History, the Abrahamic traditions, and Islam in its classical and contemporary contexts for which she has designed three teaching workbooks, published respectively in 2012, 2014, and 2016 by Kendall Hunt. Kefeli also works closely with Barrett Honors students on various projects related to religion in the Phoenix area or Islam in Central Asia. Finally, she proudly serves as the current coordinator of the Islamic Studies Undergraduate Certificate and mentors graduate students specialized in Eurasian studies.

Education

  • Ph.D. History, Arizona State University 2001
  • D.E.A. (Dipl�me d'Etudes Approfondies), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris 1985 
  • A.M. (Ma�trise, with highest honors) Russian, University of Paris IVSorbonne 1982
  • A.B. (Licence d'Enseignement), Russian, University of Paris IV-Sorbonne 1981

Research Interests

Agnes Kefeli is currently exploring the development and significance of new eschatologies in Eurasia, provoked in part by ecological crises of the twentieth century. In the post-Soviet period, as Islam has recovered from a series of vicious Communist antireligious campaigns, post-Soviet intellectuals have sought to map out responses to the ethnic and ecological challenges of their day. In their works, they have outlined sharply divergent views concerning ecological sustainability, multiculturalism, democracy, the exploitation of nature, and the future of their community in the Russian Federation. Drawing on their historical and religious traditions, some have embraced a highly secularized vision of their society; others seek to recover the religion and folkways of their ancestors; still others ally themselves with resurgent global Islam. Each of these approaches to the future implies a particular eschatological denouement.

Publications

  • Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy (Cornell University Press, 2014), 312 pages. (Winner of the 2015 Reginald Zelnik Book Prize of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.)
  • “A Baptized Sufi on the Volga River: Sufi Networks among Eastern Orthodox Tatars in the Nineteenth Century.”  Kriashenskoe Istoricheskoe Obozrenie (Kryashen Historical Review), Kazan, vol. 1, 2015: 64-82.
  • “Noah’s Ark Landed in the Ural Mountains: Ethnic and Ecological Apocalypse in Tatarstan.” Russian Review 73, no. 4 (October 2014): 596-612.
  • "The Tale of Joseph and Zulaykha on the Volga Frontier: The Struggle for Gender, Religious, and National Identity in Imperial and Post-Revolutionary Russia." Slavic Review 70, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 373-398. (This article won the Berkshire Conference Article Prize for the best article published in any field of history in 2011 and the 2012 Heldt Prize from the Association for Women in Slavic Studies.)

Courses

Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
HST 100 Global History to 1500
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 365 Islamic Civilization
Fall 2017
Course Number Course Title
REL 100 Religions of the World
HST 100 Global History to 1500
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Title
HST 100 Global History to 1500
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 365 Islamic Civilization
Fall 2016
Course Number Course Title
HST 100 Global History to 1500
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 366 Islam in the Modern World
Spring 2016
Course Number Course Title
HST 100 Global History to 1500
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 365 Islamic Civilization
Fall 2015
Course Number Course Title
HST 100 Global History to 1500
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 690 Reading and Conference
Spring 2015
Course Number Course Title
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 603 Teaching World Religions
Fall 2014
Course Number Course Title
REL 100 Religions of the World
Spring 2014
Course Number Course Title
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 365 Islamic Civilization
REL 690 Reading and Conference
Fall 2013
Course Number Course Title
REL 100 Religions of the World
REL 365 Islamic Civilization