Position Title
Professor Emerita

3234 SSH
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616


Barbara D. Metcalf Biography

By David Gilmartin, North Carolina State University

Barbara Daly Metcalf was born in Philadelphia. As she tells it in the autobiographical “fragment” with which she prefaced a recent collection of her essays, she grew up in a family whose “most distant travel was by train to the Jersey shore.” But exposed in high school to a culture in which foreign languages (though all European) were valued, and at Swarthmore College to a culture of engagement with social issues that increasingly encompassed what was referred to during the Cold War as the “third world,” Barbara’s sights turned further afield. In 1963, she went to the University of Wisconsin to study “comparative tropical history” with Philip Curtin. It was there that she developed an interest in India. Focusing on South Asian Muslims and on the Urdu language, Barbara subsequently completed her doctoral degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1974, under the guidance of Ira Lapidus, a historian of the Islamic world, and Hamid Algar, a scholar of Persian and Islam. At Berkeley, she developed an interest in the modern history of the South Asian ulama, the religious scholars of Islam, that was to mark her career as a historian.

Read more on the website for the American Historical Association.


Note: Links to articles provided here may require either access to a library with a subscription to the book or journal or a personal subscription to view, read, or download them.

Forthcoming 2023. “A Way with Words: Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (1832–1890) and the Unexpected Power of Print.”  Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Forthcoming 2022. “A Sovereign and Virtuous Body: The Competent Muslim Woman’s Guide to Health in Thanawi’s Bihishtī Zēwar (1905).” Comparative Studies in Society and History 64, 4 (October), pp.

2022. “Photography and Imagination: White Socks and Mughal Costumes in Nineteenth Century Bhopal” in Objects, Images, Stories: Simon Digby’s Historical Method ed. Francesca Orsini. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 214-239.

2019. “On the Cusp of Colonial Modernity: Administration, Women, and Islam in Princely Bhopal” in Religious Interactions in Modern India eds. Vasudha Dalmia and Martin Fuchs. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp 34-61.

2019. “Portraits of a (neo) Mughal” in Objects, Images, Stories Simon Digby’s Historical Method ed. Francesca Orsini. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2018. “Madanī, Ḥusayn Aḥmad” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Third Edition, Part 2019-1.

2018. “Secluded Sovereign: Islam and Women’s Empowerment in Nineteenth-Century India” in Hidden Histories: Religion and Reform in South Asia eds. Manu Bhagwan and Syed Akbar Hyder. New Delhi: Primus, pp. 117-36.

2017. “Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani and the Jami`at `Ulama-i-Hind: Against Pakistan, against the Muslim League” in Muslims against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan. Eds. Ali Usman Qasmi and Megan Eaton Robb. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.35-64.

2016. “Language, Friendship, and Respect: Two Families in Colonial India.” In Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Muslim Renaissance Man of India. A Bicentenary Commemorative Volume. Ed. A. R. Kidwai. New Delhi: Viva Books, pp. 237-64.

2014. “Islam and Democracy in India: From Savile Row to Jyotiba Phule Park.” In Being Muslim in South Asia: Diversity and Daily Life. Ed. Robin Bannerman Jeffrey and Ronojoy Sen. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 18-41.

2014. “The Buildings of the Begums of Bhopal: “Islamic” Architecture in a Nineteenth-century Indian Princely State” in Woman's Eye, Woman's Hand: Making Art and Architecture in Modern India. Ed. D. Fairchild Ruggles. New Delhi: Zubaan Press, pp. 66-91.

2011. Presidential Address. “Islam and Power in Colonial India: The Making and Unmaking of a Muslim Princess.” American Historical Review 116, 1 (February), 1- 30.

2011. “‘Traditionalist’ Islamic Activism: Deoband and Deobandis, Ten Years Later.” In Ten Years after 9/11: A Social Science Research Council Essay Forum.

2011. “Does Islam Create a “Specific Historical Destiny” for Muslim Women? A Review Essay about India, Iran, and Uzbekistan.” Journal of Women’s History 23, 1 (Spring 2011), 55-65.

2011. “Imrana’s Rape: Debating Islam and Law in Contemporary India.” Communalism and Globalization in South Asia and its Diaspora eds. D. Heath and C. Mathur. N.Y.: Routledge, 2011, 106-29.

2010. "Art on Trial: Civilization and Religion in the Persona and Painting of M. F. Husain" (coauthored with David Gilmartin), in Sumathi Ramaswamy, ed., Barefoot across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India (London: Routledge)

2010. “Urdu and the Madrasa in India” in A Festschrift for Shamsur Rahman Faruqi ed. Satyanarayana Hegde.

2010. “Religion and Governance in India - A Comment” in South Asia 33,1 (April 2010) Special Issue: Religion and Governance in India, 1-12.

2008. “Reforms for Muslim Women in Colonial India: Gender and the Boundaries of Class, Religion, and Nation.” In Religion und Grenzen in Indien und Deutschland. Eds M. Juneja/M. Pernau. Gottingen: V&R Unipress. 305-337.

2007. “An Argumentative Indian: Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, Islam and Nationalism in India” in Islamic Legitimacy in Plural Asia ed. Anthony Reid.London: Routledge, pp. 81-97.

2007. “Observant Muslims, Secular Indians: The Political Vision of Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, 1938-1957” in From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition ed. Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rochona Majumdar and Andrew Sartori New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 96-118.

2007. “Imrana: Rape, Islam, and Law in India.” In Islamic Studies 45:3, pp. 389-412.

2007. “Imagining Muslim futures: debates over state and society at the end of the Raj” in Historical Research. Published for the Institute of Historical Research, London, pp. 286-98.

2006. “Madrasas and Minorities in Secular India” in Schooling Islam: The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education ed. Robert Hefner and Muhammad Qasim Zaman. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 87-106.

2005. “Reinventing Islamic Politics in Interwar India: The Clergy Commitment to ‘Composite Nationalism.’” in Living Together Separately: Cultural India in History and Politics ed. Mushirul Hasan and Asim Roy. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Pp. 389-403.

2005. “Iqbal’s Imagined Geographies: The East, The West, the Nation, and Islam” in A Wilderness of Possibilities: Urdu Studies in Transnational Perspective. Edited by Kathryn Hansen and David Lelyveld. New York: Columbia University Press and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 147-69.

2005. “Hindu Ethnonationalism, Muslim Jihad, and Secularism: Muslims in the Political Life of the Republic of India” In Prospects for Peace in South Asia edited by Rafiq Dossani and Henry Rowen. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 215-38.

2004a. “The Past in the Present: Instruction, Pleasure, and Blessing in Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya’s Aap Biitii.” In Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography, and Life History. Ed. David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn. New Delhi: Permanent Black, pp. 116-43.

2004b. “India, Islam and Everyday Jihad.” Hayes Robinson Lecture Series No. 8. Egham: Royal Holloway College, University of London.

2004c. “Introduction” to Composite Nationalism and Islam by Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani (Delhi: Manohar), 23-54.

2003a. “Urdu in India in the 21st Century: A Historian’s Perspective.” Social Scientist 31:5-6 (May-June 2003), 29-37. translated as “Ikiswin sadi ke hindustan main urdu: ek muwarikh ka nazariya” in Shab-khun (Allahabad) (December 2003) 69-73. Reprinted in Redefining Urdu Politics in India. Ed. Athar Farooqi (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), pp.63-71. Pb. Edition 2010.

2003b. “Travelers’ Tales in the Tablighi Jama`at.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Scences. Vol. 588, Islam: Enduring Myths and Changing Realities (Special Editor: Aslam Syed), July 2003 issue, pages 136-148.

2002a “Adab,” “Ahl-e Hadis,” “Deoband,” “Khan, Reza of Bareilly,” “Tablighi Jamaat.” In Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. New York: Macmillan.

2002b. “‘Traditionalist’ Islamic Activism: Deoband, Tablighis, and Talibs” in Understanding September 11, Craig Calhoun, Paul Price and Ashley Timmer(eds.) New York: The New Press, 2002, 53-66. Reprinted in The Empire and the Crescent ed. Aftab Malik. U.K.: Amal Press 2003.

2001. “Pakistan: Islam, the Colonial Legacy and State Building” Review article of Islam’s Political Culture: Religion and Politics in Predivided Pakistan. By Nasim Ahmad Jawed. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999) and Pakistan: A Modern History. By Ian Talbot. (London: Hurst &Company, 1998). The Historian 64:2 (2001)

2000. "Tablighi Jama`at and Women" In Travellers In Faith: Studies of the Tablighi Jama`at as a Transnational Islamic Movement for Faith Renewal ed. Muhammad Khalid Masud. Leiden: Brill, 44-58.

1999a. “Weber and Islamic Reform” in Max Weber and Islam ed. Toby Huff and Wolfgang Schluchter. (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers), pp. 217- 30.

1999b. “Nationalism, Modernity and Muslim Identity before 1947” in The Religious Morality of the Nation-State, eds. Hartmut Lehmann and Peter van der Veer. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 149-23. 2018 Arabic trans. in Al-Ummat w’al-din (Qatar: Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies).

1998. “ Women and Men in a Contemporary Pietist Movement: The Case of the Tablighi Jama`at,” Appropriating Gender: Women’s Activism and Politicized Religion in South Asia. Eds. Amrita Basu and Patricia Jeffery. New York: Routledge, 107-121. Reprinted in re-titled volume: Resisting the Sacred and the Secular: Women’s Activism and Politicised Religion in South Asia. Delhi: Kali for Women, 1999.

1997. “Islam in Contemporary Southeast Asia: History, Community, Morality,” in Islam in an Era of Nation-States: Politics and Religious Renewal in Muslim Southeast Asia eds. Robert W. Hefner and Patricia Horvatich. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 309-320.

1996a. “Two Fatwas on Hajj in British India.” In Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and their Fatwas. ed. Muhammad Khalid Masud, Brinkley Messick and David S. Powers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 184-92.

1996b. “Sacred Words, Sanctioned Practice, New Communities,” Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe ed. Barbara Daly Metcalf. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1-27.

1996c. “New Medinas: The Tablighi Jama`at in America and Europe”. Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe ed. Barbara Daly Metcalf. Berkeley: University of California Press, 110-27.

1996d. “Meandering Madrasas: Knowledge and Short term Itinerancy in the Tablighi Jama`at.” The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia: Essays on Education, Religion, History, and Politics ed. Nigel Crook. (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 49-61.

1995a. “Islam and Women: The Case of the Tablighi Jama`at.” Stanford Humanities Review: Contested Polities, Religious Disciplines, & Structures of Modernity. 5,1:51-9.

1995b. "Narrating Lives: A Mughal Empress, A French Nabob, A Nationalist Muslim Intellectual." The Journal of Asian Studies 54, 2:474-80.

1995c. "Presidential Address: Too Little and Too Much: Reflections on Muslims in the History of India." The Journal of Asian Studies 54,4:1-17.

1994a. "Reading and Writing about Muslim Women in British India." Forging Identities: Gender, Communities and the State ed. Zoya Hasan. Delhi: Kali for Women, 1-21.

1994b. "'Remaking Ourselves: Islamic Self-Fashioning in a Global Movement of Spiritual Renewal." Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements ed. Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 706-25.

1993a. "Living Hadith in the Tablighi Jama`at." The Journal of Asian Studies 52,3: 584-608.

1993b. "What Happened in Mecca: Mumtaz Mufti's Labbaik." The Culture of Autobiography: Constructions of Self-Representation ed. Robert Folkenflik. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 149-67.

1992a. "Imagining Community: Polemical Debates in Colonial India." Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages ed. Kenneth W. Jones. Albany: SUNY Press, 229-40.

1992b. "An Islamic Ironist: Mumtaz Mufti's Labbaik." Times Literary Supplement June 1-7, NB, 580- 85.

1990. "The Pilgrimage Remembered: South Asian Accounts of the Hajj." Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration and the Religious Imagination ed. Dale Eickleman and James Piscatori. London: Routledge; and Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 85-107.

Awards and Fellowships

  • 2022                Sir Syed International Excellence Award, Aligarh Muslim University
  • 2009-12           Mellon Emeritus Fellowship, University of Michigan
  • 1999                Resident Fellowship, Rockefeller Study Center, Bellagio
  • 1998                American Institute of Pakistan Studies Senior Fellowship (in Pakistan)
  • 1991                American Academy of Arts and Sciences Grant (in Britain and Pakistan)
  • 1990                Fulbright Islamic Civilization Fellowship (in India)
  • 1989-90           National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers
  • 1989-90           Fellow, National Humanities Center