Professor Morgan Clarke

Professor of Social Anthropology

Fellow of Keble College
Director of ISCA

Arabic-speaking Middle East, Islam, law, (bio)ethics, kinship, modernity.

Morgan Clarke is an anthropologist of the Arabic-speaking Middle East with a particular interest in contemporary Islam, especially Islamic law and its relationship to positive law, secular ethics and the civil state. His fieldwork to date has been in Lebanon (2003-4, 2007-8). His doctoral work (Oxford, 2006) focused on Islamic bioethics, concerning assisted reproduction in particular, and was published as Islam and New Kinship: Reproductive Technology and the Shariah in Lebanon (Berghahn, 2009). His next major project studied Lebanon’s sharia (family law) courts, the topic of his second book, Islam and Law in Lebanon: Sharia Within and Without the State (CUP, 2018). He continues to be interested in the social life of the sharia and Islamic religious authority more generally


Telephone: +44 (0)1865 612364

Teaching and research interests

Morgan Clarke's latest book, Islam and Law in Lebanon: Sharia Within and Without the State (CUP, 2018), was developed through postdoctoral work at Cambridge (British Academy PDF, 2006-9) and Manchester (Simon Research Fellowship, 2009-11), and is an ethnography of sharia discourse in Lebanon, focusing on the sharia (family law) courts and their relationship to non-state Islamic institutions. That involved fieldwork in both Sunni and Shi‘i contexts, including mosques, Sufi circles and the offices of major religious authorities, most notably Lebanon’s late Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah. With regard to the latter, Clarke has an enduring interest in Shi‘i Islam, the subject of a number of his journal articles and a recent special issue of the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (45, 1; 2018) on ‘De-Centring Shi‘i Islam’, co-edited with Mirjam Künkler.
As well as contributing to the anthropology of Islam and the Middle East, Morgan’s research engages with both the anthropology of law and the new anthropology of ethics. He welcomes applications for doctoral research and other collaborations in any of those areas.

Selected publications

2018       Islam and law in Lebanon: sharia within and without the state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2016       After the Ayatollah: routinisation and succession in the marja‘iyya of Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah. Die Welt des Islams 56(2): 153-186.

2015       Legalism and the care of the self: shari‘ah discourse in contemporary Lebanon. In Paul Dresch and Judith Scheele (eds.), Legalism: rules and categories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2014   Cough sweets and angels: the ordinary ethics of the extraordinary in Sufi practice in Lebanon. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 20(3): 407-425.

2013       Integrity and commitment in the anthropology of Islam. In Magnus Marsden and Kostas Retsikas (eds.), Articulating Islam: anthropological approaches to Muslim worlds. New York: Springer.

2012    The judge as tragic hero: judicial ethics in Lebanon’s shari‘a courtsAmerican Ethnologist 39(1): 106-121.

2011      (Co-authored with Marcia Inhorn.) Mutuality and immediacy between marja‘ and muqallid: evidence from male IVF patients in Shi‘i Lebanon. International Journal of Middle East Studies 43(3): 409-427.

2010       Neo-calligraphy: religious authority and media technology in contemporary Shiite Islam. Comparative Studies in Society and History 52(2): 351-383.

2009    Islam and new kinship: reproductive technology and the shariah in Lebanon. New York: Berghahn Books.

  • Social anthropology, ethnography, and the ordinary.

  • Totality and infinity: sharia ethnography in Lebanon

  • Islam and Law in Lebanon Sharia within and without the State

  • De-centring Shiʿi Islam

  • Making a centre in the periphery: The legitimation of Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah’s Beirut Marjaʿiyya

  • De-Centring Shi‘i Islam: Special Issue of British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 45

  • The judge as tragic hero: Judicial ethics in Lebanon’s shari’a courts

  • Comment

  • Donor human milk for Muslim infants in the UK.

  • Donor Human Milk for Muslim Infants in the United Kingdom

  • More