Justine Howe

Associate Professor; Co-director, Women’s and Gender Studies Program



Justine Howe is Associate Professor of Religious Studies. She specializes in contemporary Islam with an ethnographic focus on Muslim communities in the United States. Professor Howe joined the Department of Religious Studies in Fall 2013 and is a core faculty member in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at CWRU. She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Northwestern University and an MA in Anthropology and Sociology of Religion from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Her first book, Suburban Islam, was published with Oxford University Press in 2018. The book which explores why local, diffuse communities, or generative “third spaces,” are crucial for tracking the possibilities and constraints of contemporary American Muslim identity. Focusing on suburban Chicago, the book demonstrates how third space communities have transformed leisure practices, such as football games and nature walks, into practices that its members understand as enactments of Islamic piety. Even as third spaces attempt to transcend various divisions in the American ummah, they also augment tensions within enduring Muslim debates around authority and ethics.

She is also the editor of the Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender (2020). The volume features 32 original essays related to various dimensions of gender and sexuality in global Muslim contexts.

Professor Howe has published several articles and book chapters related to her research in venues such as Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Journal of Quranic Studies, Journal of Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society and the Routledge Handbook of Early Islam.

She is also at work on her next book project, Muslim Students and the Making of American Islam 1963-present, which examines the crucial role of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) in shaping American Islam. The book will demonstrate how the American university has served as an indispensable site for the coalescence of American Muslim community and identity. Focusing on the MSA’s growth from its founding in 1963 until the present, the book will locate American Muslim students within the larger history of transnational political and religious activism in the United States, a history in which they have mainly been absent.

Professor Howe’s work has received numerous grants and fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Association of University Women, among others. She is a National Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI.

She teaches a wide range of courses, including Introducing Islam, Anthropology of Religion, Islam, Gender and Women, the Qur’an, and theory and method in the study of religion. She currently serves as co-chair of the Islam, Gender, Women unit at the American Academy of Religion.