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Daniel Sheffield

Department/Program(s):
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • The Council of the Humanities
Position: Visiting Fellow
Title: Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and Near Eastern Studies. Link-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows.
Office: 25A Joseph Henry House
Phone: 609-258-1945



Daniel Sheffield holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, where he specialized in Iranian and Persian Studies. His dissertation, entitled In the Path of the Prophet: Medieval and Early Modern Narratives of the Life of Zarathustra in Islamic Iran and Western India, is a historical study of the discursive practices by which Zoroastrians in Iran and India struggled to define their communal identity through constructions of the life of Zarathustra, the central figure of their religion. His dissertation explores themes of cosmopolitanism, orthodoxy, religious syncretism, vernacularization, and colonialism, and examines how Zoroastrian thinkers adopted cosmopolitan religious vocabularies from the Islamicate and Sanskritic literary traditions around them in order to create new discursive spaces for a world in which Zoroastrians were no longer a dominant political force. Daniel's recent and forthcoming publications appear in The Bulletin of the Asia Institute, The Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Zoroastrianism (ed. Stausberg and Vevaina), and On the Wonders of Land and Sea: Persianate Travel Writing (ed. Sharma and Micallef). At Harvard, Daniel was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award in 2008-2009 to investigate Pahlavi, Persian, and Gujarati manuscripts at the First Dastoor Meherjirana Library, Navsari and the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai. At Princeton, he will prepare his dissertation for publication and pursue research on a second book project tentatively entitled The Parsis and the Colonial Construction of Zoroastrianism. In the 2012-2013 academic term, he will offer an introductory course on Zoroastrianism as well as a freshman seminar entitled From the Arabian Nights to the Prince of Persia: Orientalism in Literature and Film.