Alan Verskin

Professor and Samuel J. Zacks Chair of Jewish History (He/Him)



Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Jewish history; Islamic history; translation studies; Orientalism


Alan Verskin is the Samuel J. Zacks Chair of Jewish History. His areas of research include religious, legal, and social history in both Jewish and Islamic contexts, from the middle ages through the nineteenth century. He is particularly interested in travel, translation, and the migration of ideas between religious communities. He is also interested in intellectual responses to religious persecution and minorityhood. What unites and connects all of these areas is an emphasis on paying attention to the first-person stories of those whose perspectives have been marginalized.

Professor Verskin’s books, Oppressed in the Land: Fatwas on Muslims Living under Non-Muslim Rule from the Middle Ages to the Present and Islamic Law and the Crisis of the Reconquista examine Muslim responses to conquest, colonialism, and the different choices Muslims made about whether and how to adapt to living under non-Muslim authorities. His book, Diary of a Black Jewish Messiah: The Sixteenth-Century Journey of David Reubeni through Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, explores Jewish messianic responses to Iberian forced conversion and expulsion.

Professor Verskin’s studies of the 19th-century Jewish world trace Jewish experiences of European political and cultural imperialism. He is particularly interested in the Alliance Israélite Universelle, Jewish orientalists and explorers, and the responses of local Middle Eastern Jews to the dangers and opportunities that Europeans presented. His book, A Vision of Yemen, is a translation and analysis of one of the earliest responses to orientalism by a person indigenous to the Middle East.

Professor Verskin holds degrees from the University of Toronto, University of Chicago, and Princeton University. He has taught at Macalester College, Columbia University, and the University of Rhode Island, and has been a fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.


PhD, Princeton University
MA, Princeton University
MA, University of Chicago
BA, University of Toronto