Edith Szanto

Assistant Professor|
Advisor for Undergraduate Research

Office Hours

By appointment


Prof. Edith Szanto's Website


Dr. Edith Szanto is an Assistant Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, joining the Department in the Fall of 2019. Dr. Szanto received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto in 2012 with a dissertation that examined Twelver Shi’i practices in Syria, where she spent three years on a Fulbright scholarship, researching popular Islamic practices and working for the UN.

She has previously taught at the University of Toronto and at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani.

Dr. Szanto is currently finishing the manuscript of her book, tentatively entitled Transgressive Traditions: Twelver Shi’ism in Modern Syria. The book focuses on Twelver Shi’i models of education, commemorative rituals, and negotiations of communal identities at the shrine of Sayyida Zaynab and in the seminaries surrounding the shrine.

Her new project examines religion in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Watch her 2017 lecture, “Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising”


Among the classes Dr. Szanto teaches is REL 236 Islam as well as a variety of upper-level seminars on the study of Islam, such as REL 336 Islam and the West  (in the Spring 2020 semester).

Selected Publications

​”‘Zoroaster was a Kurd!’: Neo-Zoroastrianism among the Iraqi Kurds,” Iran and the Caucasus 22 no. 1 (2018): 96-110.

Challenging transnational Shiʿi authority in Baʿth Syria,” British Journal of Middle East Studies 45 no. 1 (2018): 95-110.

Depicting Victims, Pawns and Heroines in the Syrian Uprising,” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 12 no. 3 (2016): 306-322.

Sex and the Cemetery: Iranian Pilgrims, Shrine Visitation, and Shi‘i Piety in Damascus,” Syrian Studies Association Bulletin 19 no. 2 (2014): 1-5.

Beyond the Karbala Paradigm: Rethinking Revolution and Redemption in Twelver Shi‘a Mourning Rituals,” Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies 6 no 1 (2013): 75-91.