Curriculum Vitae














Encyclopedia of the Middle East and South Asia





Executive Editor:

Prof. Gordon D. Newby, Emory University


Prof. Patit Paban Mishra, Sambalpur University,

Visiting Professor, UUM, Malaysia

Editorial Assistant:

Sarita Ines Alami, Emory University


Senior Editorial Board:


Prof. Oded Borowski, Emory University

Prof. Ruby Lal, Emory University

Prof. Roxani Margariti, Emory University

Prof. Patit Paban Mishra, Sambalpur University
Prof. Gyanendra Pandey, Emory University

Prof. Dan White, University of North Carolina at Charlotte



M. E. Sharpe



AUDIENCE:  The primary audience will be users of high school, college and public libraries in the English-speaking world.  Because of the scope and unique perspective of this work, it will also be useful to professionals interested in the region, since it will provide up-to-date summaries of our current state of knowledge and debates about issues of importance.


SCOPE AND PURPOSE:  The scope of the Encyclopedia of the Middle East and South Asia is the geographic region from the East Mediterranean, including North Africa to and including the sub-continent of South Asia.  It will span the time periods from our earliest historical knowledge to the present, and include information on the art, culture, history, politics,social structure, and religions of the area.  It will combine specific terms referring to events and peoples with broader, conceptual terms aimed at providing an overview of important issues and concepts.


Historical and Cultural Cohesiveness of the Middle East and South Asia


From the beginnings of the history of the world, three riverine areas have been regarded as the major initiators of civilization: the area around the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus valley area, and the area of the lower Nile.  The last area, while part of northwest Africa, has from its earliest proto-historical period been part of the culture sphere of The Middle East and South Asia, both receiving and giving impetus to the two other civilizations.  Trade in commodities and ideas haslinked these areas together from before the time of written historical records.


In the historical ancient world, trade between the western most part of this area, the Eastern Mediterranean, and India flourished, both overland through the upper areas of Persia and by sea through the exploitation of the seasonally shifting monsoons.  With the military conquests of Alexander of Macedon, and later the intellectual conquests of Hellenistic civilization, the Middle East and South Asia sharedin an emerging set of questions and debates about science and the world, while, at the same time, developing distinctive cultures and theologies. 


The cultures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, originating in the Middle East, become direct heirs of the views that had developed as a result of a knowledge of the wider world.  The multiple cultures and populations were viewed as deriving from a single creation and, hence, related.  In India, the Hindu traditions negotiated multivariate perspectives by embracing the diversity of the subcontinent's population.  Each religion had local roots, yet each was able to reach widely into the world on the strength of religious belief and commerce.   


By the time of the rise of Islam, traders would go normally overland from Constantinople to the mouth of the Ganges, traversing past the Caspian sea and the headwaters of the Oxus, down, across the Indus and over to the Ganges.  Others would go by water from Alexandria to the southern tip of Arabia, over the Indian Ocean and then around India to the sea of Bengal.  To find the locations of settlements of Jews and Christians in India and Buddhists in Anatolia, one merely has to follow the trade routes.  The great Jewish sage, Maimonides, received some of his financial support to write his great works from his brother, who made his fortune plying the Indian Ocean trade.  And some early European explorers of the East found backing for their expeditions by claiming to search for Prester John, the legendary character arising from the very real Christian missionary successes in south Asia and farther east.  It is little wonder that Islam developed its historical and cultural center in the lands of The Middle East and South Asia, from there to spread around the world.


The modern interconnectedness of the area can be viewed, in part, as an outgrowth of its past interconnections and mutual negotiations, and in part as a result of European, and especially British, colonialism.  British holdings in India relied heavily on control of the "Middle East" or "Near East," as the Eurocentric and colonial terminology described the region.  The result has been a further shared cultural experience, which are sharply marked by post-colonial reactions.


The Convergences of the Middle East and South Asia as a Subject of Intellectual Inquiry


Students of the Middle East, of India, of Islamic civilizations, and of the history of the three monotheistic religions have found it necessary to expand their views to include all of The Middle East and South Asia.  To cite just a few examples, the three great Muslim empires, the Ottoman, the Persian, and the Mughal, all were based on the various versions of Islam, the various dialects of Persian, and a shared tradition of art, dress, philosophy, and law.  To understand the later years of the Ottoman empire, one has to look at issues of pan-Turanism, the desire to include all the Turkic peoples of the Middle East and South Asia and beyond, and the Khilafat movement, which intellectually, religiously and to an extent politically, tied Anatolia to India.  Folklore is another shared area that helps us understand the connectedness of the Middle East and South Asia.  Stories, customs, and cultural themes span the region, appearing little changed from one locale to another.  This sphere of inquiry is institutionalized in the Middle East and South Asia Folklore Bulletin published by The Division of Comparative Studies in the Humanities at Ohio State University.  On a more practical basis, during the Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf conflict, some argued that our policies would have been better informed had we been able to take a view that looked beyond the parochialism which separated some parts of the Middle East from other parts and all of those from South Asia.


COMPETING WORKS:  There is no competing encyclopedia or similar reference work that competes with the proposed Encyclopedia of the Middle East and South Asia.  The more general encyclopedias of world history, the encyclopedias of the Middle East and the Encyclopaedia of Islam, published by E. J. Brill, all contain some materials about the region, but are not accessible, one-stop sources of information about a region that is increasingly in the news.  The United States House of Representatives has a subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, recognizing the connectedness and importance of the area, but, to date, no comprehensive work has appeared in English that provides easy reference to the full range of topics encompassed in this encyclopedia.


HEADWORD LISTS: (Please note that the headwords are divided into levels of length and specificity. Level 1, approx. 1500 words, is the longest and most comprehensive, Level 2 is 750 words, level 3 is 500 words, and level 4 is from 200 to 250 words, and level 5 is from 50 to 100 words and is the most specific. All articles, however, will reflect where possible the importance of the term or subject to the entire region of the Middle East and South Asia.)  

Middle East and South Asia Headword List

Please download and examine the Guide for Contributors in preparing your contributions