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Dr Paul Anderson


Dr Paul Anderson is the Prince Alwaleed Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, the Assistant Director of the University’s Prince Alwaleed Centre of Islamic Studies, and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. Dr Anderson is a social anthropologist interested in the study of morality, language, value and politics in the Arab world. He has written about practices and concepts of moral personhood, and the social and political effects of speech, in Syria and Egypt. He gained his PhD in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh and his BA(Hons) in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford.

Subject groups/Research projects

Arabic & Persian Studies:

Research Interests

  • Social and political anthropology of the Arab world (especially Syria and Syrian diaspora), particularly issues of morality, language, agency, value, markets, religion, and authoritarianism.
  • Islamic modernism
  • Sayyid Qutb

Other Professional Activities

I teach courses and supervise projects on the anthropology of the Middle East, the anthropology of Islam and on modern Islamic thought in the Arab world, combining an anthropological approach with a close study of modern Islamic texts in Arabic. 

Key Publications

2013       ‘The Politics of Scorn in Syria and the Agency of Narrated Involvement’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 19(3): 463-481).


2011       ‘‘The Piety of the Gift’: Selfhood and Sociality in the Egyptian Mosque Movement’, Anthropological Theory 11(1):1-19.


2008       ‘Is Altruism Possible?’ Royal Anthropological Institute Hocart Prize Essay. Link to PDF attached


See more here (link to PDF)