Edith Szanto

Assistant Professor|
Advisor, REL Major/Minor|
Member, Undergrad Committee

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  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.

Among her recent projects is one examining religion in Iraqi Kurdistan.


Among the classes Dr. Szanto teaches is REL 236 Islam as well as a variety of upper-level and graduate seminars on the study of Islam, such as REL 336 Islam and the West.

Selected Publications

“The ‘Alimahs of Sayyida Zaynab: Female Shi‘i Authority in a Syrian Sanctuary,” in Female Religious Authority in Shi‘i Islam: A Comparative History, edited by Mirjam Künkler and Devin Steward (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021), 307-322.

“Battered Love in Contemporary Syria: Shi‘i Spiritual Healing with Abu Ahmad,” in Islam, Migration and Jinn: Spiritual Medicine in Muslim Health Management, edited by Annabelle Böttcher and Birgit Krawietz (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), 77-97.

“The Widows of Karbala: On Studying Women in Contemporary Shi‘ism,” in The Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender, edited Justine Howe (New York: Routledge, 2020).

Islam in Kurdistan: Religious Communities and Their Practices in Contemporary Northern Iraq,” in Handbook of Contemporary Islam and Muslim Lives, edited by Mark Woodward and Ronald Lukens-Bull (New York: Springer, 2020).

“Economies of Piety at the Syrian Shrine of Sayyida Zaynab,” in Muslim Pilgrimage in the Modern World, edited by Babak Rahimi and Peyman Eshaghi (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019), 172-182.

‘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.