Bowen selected for prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship

WUSTL anthropologist to focus on Shariah and Law in Britain

John R. Bowen, PhD, a sociocultural anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, has been selected for a prestigious fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

John Bowen

Bowen, the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts & Sciences, was among the 181 Guggenheim Fellows chosen in 2012 from nearly 3,000 scholars, artists and scientists in the United States and Canada. The Guggenheim Fellowship is awarded on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Bowen’s research focuses on problems of pluralism, law and religion — and in particular on contemporary efforts to rethink Islamic norms and civil law — in France, England and North America. He also studies Islam and society in Indonesia.

During the year of Bowen’s fellowship, which begins in July, Bowen will continue his work on his book Shariah and Law in Britain. The book will examine how Islamic shariah councils in Britain — the first to be established in Western Europe — function both socially and legally and the councils’ relationships with different publics in Britain and elsewhere.

Bowen’s selection marks the second consecutive year a WUSTL faculty member in the Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences has been named a Guggenheim Fellow. Pascal Boyer, PhD, the Henry Luce Professor of Collective and Individual Memory, was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2011.

“Of course, I feel great that our department has had Guggenheim Fellows two years running,” Bowen says.

“This award is a confirmation of John’s remarkable stature in the field, and we are exceptionally proud of his accomplishments,” says T.R. Kidder, PhD, professor and chair of anthropology.

Bowen is the author of numerous books, including Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space (Princeton University Press, 2007); Can Islam Be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State (Princeton University Press, 2009) and, most recently, Blaming Islam (MIT Press, 2012).

In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, Bowen has received grants or fellowships from organizations such as the French National Research Agency, National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Rockefeller Foundation and Wenner-Gren Foundation. He was named a Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corp. in 2005.

Bowen earned a bachelor’s degree in 1973 from Stanford University and a master’s degree in 1977 and a doctorate in 1984, both in anthropology, from the University of Chicago.

Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more then $298 million in fellowships to more than 17,300 individuals.

For a full list of 2012 Guggenheim Fellows, visit