Amir Hussain is Chair and Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, the Jesuit university in Los Angeles. His work is primarily in the study of Islam, focusing on contemporary Muslim societies in North America. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Toronto. From 2011 to 2015, he was the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the AAR.
Hussain is also interested in areas such as religion and music, religion and literature, religion and film, and religion and popular culture. He has been an advisor for several television shows, most recently The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. In 2008, he was appointed a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.
He is the co-editor for the 4th edition of A Concise Introduction to World Religions, (OUP: 2019), and also the co-editor for the 5th editions of World Religions: Western Traditions, and World Religions: Eastern Traditions (OUP: 2018). His most recent book is Muslims and the Making of America (Baylor University Press: 2016). He has published over 60 book chapters and scholarly articles about religion.
I am an AAR “lifer.” I joined as a graduate student over 30 years ago, and have been to every annual meeting since 1992, as well as to several meetings of three different regional units. I have co-chaired two program units, served on the steering committees of three others, and helped in the creation of yet another. I have served on the Program Unit Chairs Council, as well as the Research Grants Jury, and for a five year term I edited the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Most recently, I was elected to the Board of Directors where I serve on the Program Committee.
I was born in Pakistan, grew up in Canada (kindergarten to PhD), and have lived in the United States for almost 25 years. So I understand, experientially, the importance of the international component of the AAR’s mission “to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion.” I have taught in large public state institutions in both Canada and the USA, and for the last 15 years I have served in a smaller, private, religious institution. So I understand something of the diverse constituencies that make up who we are and who we serve in the AAR. I would be honoured to serve as your vice-president.
I come from working class roots, the first person in my family to go to university. I’ve never been afraid of a hard day’s work, but I understand all too well that many of us who put in a hard day’s work don’t get a full day’s pay. There are sailors in my family, and from them, I understand the importance of service and duty. We succeed as a community, not as individuals, and I want to do what I can to help our larger AAR community. COVID-19 has changed the landscape at our colleges and universities. We have moved to online instruction, research has been halted, positions (both faculty and staff) have been cut or reduced, and if we are working we are working from home. This is on top of funding cuts and other issues that affect us more broadly in the humanities, and more specifically in the study of religion. For many of us, the AAR is our professional organization, and my goal is to continue the important work it has done to represent us and our concerns.