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Robert W. Hefner

Pardee School of Global Affairs
Boston University

Robert W. Hefner is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Pardee School of Global Affairs at Boston University. 

From 1986-2017, he worked with the sociologist Peter L. Berger and served as director and/or associate director of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) at Boston University.

Hefner is a social theorist who specializes in the anthropology of religion, ethics and law (including shariah law), education and youth development, as well as the comparative study of gender, citizenship, globalization, and modernity. 

He has directed some 24 major research projects and organized 19 international conferences, on issues ranging from Muslim politics and shariah law to citizenship and civic education in Western democratic societies. 

His research in recent years has had two thematic and areal foci: the politics and ethics of pluralist co-existence in the Muslim-majority world, including especially Indonesia and Malaysia; and, second, social recognition and citizenship among Catholics, Muslims, and secular-liberals in France and the United States. 

Hefner has published 21 edited or single-authored books, as well as seven major policy reports for the U.S. government and private foundations. 

Seven of his books have been translated into Indonesian and Malay; one has been published in Chinese.  With the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, Hefner is currently (2019-2021) co-producing (with Zainal Abidin Bagir of Gadjah Mada University) six films on plurality, gender, and citizenship in Indonesia. 

He is also completing a book on Muslims, shariah law, and the quest for a modern Muslim ethics.