Bio


Robert D. Crews is an historian whose research and teaching interests focus on Afghanistan, Central and South Asia, Russia, Islam, and Global History. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he received an MA in History from Columbia University and a PhD degree in History from Princeton University.

He is the author of Afghan Modern: The History of a Global Nation (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2015) and For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Harvard University Press, 2006) - in Russian translation as За пророка и царя: ислам и империя в России и Центральной Азии (Москва: Новое литературное обозрение, 2020) and co-editor of Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands (Harvard University Press, 2012) and The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2008). His work has also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The New York Times.

He has served as Director of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Afghanistan (The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies/Edinburgh University Press).

A 2009 Carnegie Scholar, Crews received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching for First Years of Teaching, 2006-2007, the El Centro Chicano Faculty Appreciation Award in 2011, and the Stanford College Prep Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award, Summer 2012. His research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Kennan Institute, the Carnegie Corporation, the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Academy of Korean Studies, and others.

His course offerings in 2020-2021 include “The Islamic Republics: Politics and Society in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan" (Winter), “The Global Drug Wars" (Spring), "Global History: Modern Times" (Spring), and "Global Islam" (Summer).

Academic Appointments


  • Professor, History

Administrative Appointments


  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of History, Stanford University (2010 - 2013)
  • Director, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, Stanford University (2010 - 2013)
  • Director, Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, Stanford University (2013 - 2016)

Honors & Awards


  • Carnegie Scholar, Carnegie Corporation (2009)
  • Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching for First Years of Teaching, Stanford University (2006-2007)

Program Affiliations


  • Iranian Studies

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Afghanistan: A Very Short Introduction (book manuscript co-authored with Wazhmah Osman, under contract with Oxford University Press).

Muslims from the Margins: The Politics of Islam in a Global Age (book manuscript – a history of the politics of Muslim minority communities in Mexico, Ghana, India, Russia, and Northern Ireland)

The Afghan Shia: A Revolutionary Minority (book manuscript)

2020-21 Courses


Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • Gender, Religious Authority, and Media in Afghanistan The Written and the Spoken in Central Asia/Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit in Zentralasien – Festschrift für Ingeborg Baldauf Crews, R. D. edition-tethys. 2021: 359–379
  • New Publics and the Challenge of Peace in Afghanistan In Search of Peace for Afghanistan: Historical Letters of President Najibullah and Dr. M. Hassan Kakar: A Collection of Essays Crews, R. D. 2021: 175–188
  • Mourning Imam Husayn in Karbala and Kabul: The political meanings of (c)Ashura in Afghanistan AFGHANISTAN Crews, R. D. 2020; 3 (2): 202–36
  • Risking Democracy in Afghanistan: Voting, Violence, and the Struggle for Parliament Journal of International Affairs (online) Crews, R. 2018; October 18, 2018
  • Moscow and the Mosque Co-opting Muslims in Putin's Russia FOREIGN AFFAIRS Crews, R. D. 2014; 93 (2): 125-134
  • Trafficking in Evil? The Global Arms Trade and the Politics of Disorder Conference on Circuits and Networks - Muslim Interactions in the First Age of Globalization Crews, R. UNIV CALIFORNIA PRESS. 2014: 121-?
  • Putin's Khanate: How Moscow is Trying to Integrate Crimean Muslims Foreign Affairs Crews, R. D. 2014
  • The Russian Worlds of Islam Islam and the European Empires Crews, R. D. edited by Motadel, D. Oxford University Press. 2014
  • The Taliban and Nationalist Militancy in Afghanistan Contextualizing Jihadi Thought Crews, R. D. edited by Deol, J., Kazmi, Z. Columbia/Hurst. 2012
  • Muslim Networks, Imperial Power and the Local Politics of Qajar Iran Asiatic Russia: Imperial Power in Regional and International Contexts Crews, R. D. edited by Tomohiko, U. Routledge. 2012
  • Russia Unbound: Historical Frameworks and the Challenge of Globalism Ab Imperio Crews, R. D. 2010; 1: 53-63
  • An Empire for the Faithful, A Colony for the Dispossessed Turkestan russe: une colonie comme les autres? Crews, R. D. edited by Gorshenina, S., Abashin, S. Collection de l’IFEAC. 2009: 79–106
  • Rewriting Europe's Muslim Pasts European Studies Forum Crews, R. D. 2008; 38 (1): 5-11
  • Liberating Afghanistan Middle East Institute Viewpoints Crews, R. D. 2008: 75-78
  • Islamic Law, Imperial Order: Muslims, Jews, and the Russian State Ab Imperio Crews, R. D. 2004; 3: 467-490
  • Empire and the confessional state: Islam and religious politics in nineteenth-century Russia AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW CREWS, R. 2003; 108 (1): 50-83
  • Civilization in the City: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Colonization of Tashkent Architectures of Identity in Russia, 1500-2000 Crews, R. D. edited by Cracraft, J., Rowland, D. Cornell University Press. 2003: 117–132