Nile Green

A photo of Nile Green
E-mail: Phone: 310-825-9498 Office: Bunche Hall 7256

Professor, Ibn Khaldun Endowed Chair in World History

Fields of Interest: World History, Islam and Muslims in Global History; History of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia; Muslim Interactions with the Non-Muslim World, Sufism, the Indian Ocean, Persian, Urdu, Travel Writing, Islamic Printing


I am a historian of the multiple globalizations of Islam and Muslims. After beginning my career as a historian of India and Pakistan, I have traced Muslim networks that connect Afghanistan, Iran, the Indian Ocean, Africa, Japan, Europe and America.

Reviews of my books have appeared in The New York Times (as Editors’ Choice), The New YorkerThe New York Review of BooksThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Times Literary SupplementThe Literary ReviewProspectTime Out, as well as major newspapers across the English-speaking world from the Toronto Star to the Sydney Morning Herald (as Pick of the Week), in addition to South Asia and the Middle East.

My most recent book, How Asia Found Herself: A Story of Intercultural Understanding, examines how the languages, cultures, and religions of East and Southeast Asia were interpreted in South and West Asia. An earlier public-facing book, The Love of Strangers, reconstructed the beginning of modern Muslim-European exchange by following the first Middle Eastern students to study in Europe. My previous books explored such broad topics as the interplay of Islam and globalization; the emergence of industrialized religious economies in the Indian Ocean, Atlantic and Pacific; the world history of Sufism; the making of the world’s largest Muslim community in India/Pakistan; and the Muslim soldiers of the British Empire.

In recent years, I have sought to reposition Islam and Muslims in world history through writing on such topics as the emergence of art history in Middle Eastern and South Asian languages; intellectual and technological interchange between Asia and Europe; Muslim global travel writings; the transnational genealogy of Afghan modernism; and the history of ‘Islamic’ printing. I have also used the networks forged by Sufi brotherhoods to understand pre-modern and early modern mechanisms of Muslim expansion from the Middle East to both Europe and China. One hallmark of my writing has been to join together the study of the early modern and modern periods, especially with regard to the question of multiple globalisms and globalizations.

In methodological terms, much of my work has drawn on the insights of anthropology, an interest that developed as I lived, researched and traveled in India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Chinese Central Asia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, Myanmar, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Balkans.

Given the fact that South Asia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, my work seeks to position the region in a global and comparative perspective.

To this end, I served for eight years as founding director of the UCLA Program on Central Asia. I have also served on the Association of Asian Studies’ South Asia Council; on the Executive Committee of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies; and on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Middle East StudiesIranian StudiesIran-NamehAfghanistan, the Journal of South Asian Intellectual History, and the South Asia Across the Disciplines book series.

Through my initial training in South Asian and Middle East Studies and my abiding interests in Muslims in Asia, Africa and Europe, I endeavor to bring world history into conversation with Islamic history.

Awards and Grants

  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
  • Luce/ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs
  • Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award
  • Association for Asian Studies’ Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Book Award
  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
  • Luce/ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs