Academic Profile

Faizah Zakaria's research and teaching focus on the environmental and religious histories, with a geographical focus on Asia. She holds a PhD in history from Yale University and an M.A in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore. Prior to doctoral studies, she was a Public Service Commission (PSC) Local Merit Scholar and served as a junior college teacher.

Her most recent scholarship centers on religion and ecology in upland Southeast Asia during the long nineteenth century, examining the interconnections between land-use conversions, indigenous environmentalism and religious change. For this work, her PhD dissertation has won the Arthur and Mary Wright Prize for outstanding work on non-Western history at Yale. It was also shortlisted for the International Consortium of Asian Scholars (ICAS) Book Prize in 2019 for the best dissertation in the humanities.

Faizah has held fellowships with Cornell University and the International Institute for Asian Studies at Leiden University. At NTU, she teaches courses on Islamic world history, Southeast Asia regional histories and environmental history. She is associated with the Green Humanities research cluster.
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Asst Prof Faizah Binte Zakaria
Assistant Professor, School of Humanities

I am currently working on a book manuscript based on my PhD dissertation titled, "Spiritual Anthropocene: Ecology of Conversion in Maritime Southeast Asian Uplands." The book is under contract with University of Washington Press (anticipated publication, 2021).

My project uses the North Sumatran highlands as a case study to examine how mass religious conversion from animism to monotheism was catalyzed by the transformation of the environment as well as large- scale migration working as a holistic system embedded in global networks. I am building on this research to develop a monograph that demonstrates how religious beliefs about the natural world have a dialectical impact on environmental management due to this interconnected global network. Of central interest are the following questions: how do religious beliefs shape a maritime Southeast Asian environmentalism? Conversely, how do changes to our local environments impact religious thought? The project will also further interrogate the idea of the Anthropocene to examine how the concept goes beyond geology and material landscapes as well as time by factoring in how sacred landscapes overlay natural ones.

With support from various grants, I am also developing new projects on the history of charismatic megafauna as well as multi-faceted, long-term impacts of volcanic eruptions in the Southeast Asia region.

More broadly, my research interests sits at the nexus of history and anthropology, including: world and imperial history, indigenous peoples and religions, environmental justice and sustainability, mass violence, human rights and the Anthropocene.
  • Magic and Materiality in the Malay World: Historicizing Religion and Ecology in the Region

  • Polyglot medical Heritage in Maritime Southeast Asia: Foundational Resources and Digital Tools

  • The Construction of Charisma for Conservation: Mega-Fauna in Maritime Southeast Asia
  • Zakaria, Faizah. (2019). Religion, Mass Violence and Illiberal Regimes: Recent Research on the Rohingya in Myanmar. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 38(1), 1-14.

  • Faizah Zakaria. (2018). Qingzhen from the Perspective of the Other: Consumption and Muslim Boundary-Making in Republican China, 1920-1949. Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, 3(2), 3-22.

  • Faizah Zakaria. (2018). Indonesia's Mass Killing of 1965-66: Retrospective and Requiem. Critical Asian Studies, 50(4), 664-669.

  • Zakaria, F. and Zainal H. (2017). Traditional Malay Medicine in Singapore: A Gramscian Perspective. Indonesia and the Malay World, 45(131), 127-144.

  • Zakaria F.(2013). An Empire State of the Mind: Imaginings of 'Rum' and the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Between the Mountain and the Sea: Positioning Indonesia(1-32). Indonesia: Gadjah Mada University Press.