Robert Crews

Professor of History

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.

In 2021-22, he is on sabbatical and is not accepting new Ph.D. or post-doctoral advisees.

Recent and Forthcoming Publications

“'Sellers of the Homeland’: Narratives of Treason and Fidelity in Afghanistan,” in Enemies Within: The Global Politics of Fifth Columns, eds. Harris Mylonas and Scott Radnitz (Forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2022). 

“Gender, Religious Authority, and Media in Afghanistan,” The Written and the Spoken in Central Asia/Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit in Zentralasien – Festschrift für Ingeborg Baldauf, ed. Redkollegia (Potsdam: edition-tethys, 2021), 359-379.  

“New Publics and the Challenge of Peace in Afghanistan,” in In Search of Peace for Afghanistan: Historical Letters of President Najibullah and Dr. M. Hassan Kakar: A Collection of Essays, ed. Jawan Shir Rasikh (Kabul: Kakar History Foundation Press, 2021), 175-188. 

“Mourning Imam Husayn in Karbala and Kabul: The Political Meanings of ʿAshura 

in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan 3, no. 2 (2020): 202-236. 

“Debating the Afghan Secular: The Politics of Dissent, Diaspora, and Religious Pluralism” (article)

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

The Politics of Islam in a Global Age (book manuscript – a global history of the politics of Muslim minority communities, focusing on Mexico, Ghana, India, Russia, and Northern Ireland)

The Afghan Shia: A Revolutionary Minority (book manuscript)


Current and Recent PhD Advisees

Anubha Anushree, The Moral Empire: Corruption in Colonial and Postcolonial India
Mejgan Massoumi, “The Sounds of Kabul: Radio and the Politics of Popular Culture in Afghanistan, 1960-79," (2021) 
Sabauon Nasseri, “The Red Flower of Life: The Afghan Left and the Cold War”



(650) 724-5435
Central and Inner Asia
Global, Transnational, and International History
Immigration, Borderlands, and Frontiers

Journal  Article on America's Afghan Refugee Crisis, Foreign Press, 2018

Journal Article on Kabul's New Street Politics, Foreign Affairs, November 2015

Journal Article on  Moscow and the Mosque: Co-opting Muslims in Putin's Russia