John Bowen is the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences at the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in St Louis, Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and Professeur Associé, Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL), Paris. He gained his BA from Stanford, undertook graduate studies at the École Pratique des Hautes études, Paris and earned his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. John Bowen directs the Trans-Atlantic Forum and has held many positions in professional organisations: he is currently President of the Scientific Council of the French Network of Institutes for Advanced Study (RFIEA) and was until recently Chair of the Council for European Studies (New York). He is on the editorial boards of various journals, including the Political and Legal Anthropology Review and Studia Islamika (Jakarta).
His current research focuses on comparative social studies of Islam across the world. His own ethnographic studies take place in Indonesia, France and England, but he works with students and colleagues with field sites across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In particular, he analyses how Muslims (judges and scholars, public figures, ordinary people) work across plural sources of norms and values, including diverse interpretations of the Islamic tradition, law codes and decisions, and local social norms.
Author of over 80 book chapters and journal articles, his monographs include A New Anthropology of Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2012); Blaming Islam (MIT Press, 2012); Can Islam Be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State (Princeton University Press, 2009); Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space (Princeton University Press, 2007); and Islam, Law and Equality in Indonesia: an Anthropology of Public Reasoning (Cambridge University Press, 2003), which received the Herbert Jacobs Book Prize from the Law and Society Association.