Heather J. Sharkey


University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, United-States

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Heather J. Sharkey is a Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She previously held positions at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Trinity College in Connecticut. In 2012, she was a Visiting Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. She earned degrees from Yale University (Anthropology, BA), the University of Durham, UK (Middle Eastern Studies, MPhil), and Princeton University (History, PhD). She is the author of Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (University of California Press, 2003); American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire (Princeton University Press, 2008); American Missionaries and the Middle East: Foundational Encounters (editor, with Mehmet Ali Doğan; University of Utah Press, 2011); and Cultural Conversions: Unexpected Consequences of Christian Missionary Encounters in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (editor, Syracuse University Press, 2013). Her most recent book, A History of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East, appeared from Cambridge University Press in 2017.

Research project

Heather J. Sharkey is an expert in the history of American and British Protestant missions and missionaries in the Middle East and North Africa, with special attention to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt and Sudan.   She studies how missionaries changed the people and societies where they worked, and reciprocally, how mission encounters transformed missionaries themselves, with consequences for the countries that sent them. She examines the relationship of missionaries to imperialism, nationalism, and transnationalism on the one hand, and education, literacy, and print culture on the other. At the same time, more broadly, she has keen interests in the quotidian or everyday history of intercommunal relations among Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the region.


conversion, nationalism, translation, literacy, imperialism