Justine Howe

Associate Professor



Justine Howe 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 American Muslim identity in contemporary America. 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 they understand as enactments of Islamic piety. Even as they serve as sites that attempt to transcend various divisions in the American ummah, third spaces also augment tensions within enduring Muslim debates around authority and ethics.

Professor Howe has several articles and chapters on gender and religious pluralism in contemporary American Muslim communities, in Religion and American Culture (forthcoming), Journal of Muslim Philanthropy (forthcoming), Routledge Handbook of Early Islam (2017), and the Journal of Quranic Studies (2016), among others.

She is also the editor of the Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender, which is forthcoming in Summer 2020. The volume will feature 30 original essays related to various dimensions of gender and sexuality in global Muslim contexts.

She is also at work on her next book project, Muslim Students and the Making of American Islam, 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 has received numerous grants and awards, including her recent selection as a fellow in the Young Scholars in American Religion program at the Center for Religion and American Culture at IUPUI, a Faculty Fellowship from the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western, and an American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant.

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.