Edith Szanto


Edith Szanto is currently a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Toronto and a Lecturer at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, where she teaches Middle Eastern history and comparative religion.  She graduated Summa cum Laude from Arizona State University in 2002, and received her MA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004.  Before coming to the University of Toronto, she spent a year and a half in Syria as a Fulbrighter, researching popular Islamic practices and working for the UN.  She is currently finishing her dissertation on Twelver Shi'i piety in and around the shrine of Sayyida Zaynab.  Her next project focuses on Shi'ism and Sufism in Iraqi Kurdistan.


She can be reached at



Ms. Szanto’s publications include:


“Illustrating an Islamic Childhood in Syria:  Pious Subjects and Religious Authority in Twelver Shi‘i Children’s Books,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32.2 (2012): 361-373.


Sayyida Zaynab in the State of Exception:  Shi‘i Sainthood as ‘Qualified Life’ in Contemporary Syria,” International Journal for Middle Eastern Studies 44.2 (2012): 285-299.


Pedagogies of Piety: Shi’i Children’s Books, Ethics and the Emergence of the Pious Subject,” Symposia: The Graduate Student Journal of the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto 1.1 (2009): 62-78.


Inter-Religious Dialogue in Syria: Politics, Ethics and Miscommunication,” Political Theology 9.1 (2008): 93-113.


A Scholar of Popular Contemporary Islam on the Quest for ‘Truth’ in Damascus,” Syrian Studies Association Newsletter 13.2 (2008): 8-9, 15.


Muharram in and around Sayyeda Zaynab,” Syrian Studies Association Newsletter 13.1 (2007): 4-5.