Nathan J. Brown

Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University

Nathan J. Brown currently serves as Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Nonresident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Brown is the author of eight books, the most recent of which were Egypt: Lumbering State, Restless Society (with Shimaa Hatab and Amr Adly, Columbia University Press 2022), and Arguing Islam after the Revival of Arab Politics (Oxford University Press in 2016). Brown has served as a Guggenheim Fellow, a Carnegie Scholar, a Woodrow Wilson fellow, and a Fulbright scholar.

Brown’s research has focused on issues of constitutionalism, the rule of law, Islam and politics, and democracy in the Arab world. He has also explored authoritarianism and the role of state institutions such as courts, parliaments, and religious bureaucracies in authoritarian political systems.

Brown’s fellowship at HIAS will be devoted to drafting a book manuscript tentatively entitled Religion in State, an effort to ask broadly why states structure religious institutions the way that they have and how official structuring of religion changes over time. In most societies the process of constructing extensive bureaucratic states in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries formalized an understanding of “religion” as a field of human affairs, leaving some religious activities becoming part of the state apparatus and others lying outside of the state and sometimes even outside state regulation. Once those settlements were institutionalized in legal form, they proved very difficult to dislodge; they have served to channel sharp contests over precise arrangements. Brown’s project will trace this process in the Middle East but place that experience in global perspective.

His tandem partner is Eckart Woertz, professor of Global History at Universität Hamburg.

Nathan J. Brown’s HIAS Fellowship is provided by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the federal and state funds acquired by Universität Hamburg in the framework of its Excellence Strategy.


Nathan J. Brown


Universität Hamburg


Eckart Woertz, professor in Gobal History at Universität Hamburg and Director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies.

Image Information

Cairo – Islamic district – Al-Azhar Mosque courtyard with minarets
Source: Wikimedia Commons