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Austrian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Social Anthropology

Daniel Varisco, PhD (associated researcher)


Daniel Martin Varisco holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania for ethnographic research on water resource use and agriculture in Yemen and he has an M.A. in Archaeology from the same university. He has also conducted ethnographic and historical research in Egypt and Qatar, and work as a development consultant in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. He serves as President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, editor-in-chief of CyberOrient (, and was editor of Contemporary Islam (2006-2016). From 2002-2004 he served as President of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. His publications include 5 books, over 45 articles in professional journals, 16 chapters in edited books and over 150 book reviews. He also moderates the blog and frequently posts commentaries on various forums.

Selected Publications


-Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017/2007.

-Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation. New York: Palgrave, 2005.

-The Manuscript of al-Malik al-Afḍal: al-‘Abbās b. ‘Alī b. Dā‘ūd b. Yūsuf b. ‘Umar b. ‘Alī Ibn Rasūl (d. 778/1377): A Medieval Arabic Anthology from the Yemen (Editor, with G. R. Smith). London: Gibb Memorial Trust, 1998.

-Medieval Folk Astronomy and Agriculture in Arabia and the Yemen. Variorum Collected Studies. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1997.

-Medieval Agriculture and Islamic Science: The Almanac of a Yemeni Sultan. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.


-'Yemen’s Tribal Idiom: An Ethno-Historical Survey of Genealogical Models.' Journal of Semitic Studies LXII(1). 2017, p.. 217-241.

-'Conclusion: Searching for a Resolution.' In Yemen and the Gulf States the Making of a Crisis, edited by Helen Lackner and Daniel Martin Varisco, 2017, pp. 101-111. Berlin: Gerlach.

-'Drone Strikes in the War on Terror: The Case of Post-Arab-Spring Yemen.' Gulf Studies Center Monograph Series, No. 1. Doha: Gulf Studies Center, Qatar University. Pdf online at, 2015.

-'Pars Pro Toto Observation: Historical Anthropology in the Textual Field of Rasulid Yemen.' History and Anthropology. Published Online First July, 2014.

-'Qât and Traditional Healing in Yemen.' In H. Schönig and I. Heymeyer, editors, Herbal Medicine in Yemen, Leiden: Brill, 2012, pp. 69-102.

-'Zibl and Zirâ‘a: Manure in Arabic Agricultural Texts.' In Richard Jones, editor, Manure Matters: Archaeological, Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives, London: Ashgate, 2012, pp.129-158.

-'The 14th Century Almanac Poem of ‘Abd Allāh ibn As‘ad al-Yāfi‘ī.' Oriente Moderno XCII(1), pp. 29-64, 2012.

-'What Camels Eat: A Study in Arabic Ethnobotany.' In E. Knoll & P. Burger, editors, Camels in Asia and North Africa. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on their Significance in Past and Present, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2012, pp. 151-161.

-'Inventing Islamism:: The Violence of Rhetoric.' In Richard Martin and Abbas Barzegar, editors, Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009, pp. 33-47, 125-132.

-'Agriculture in al-Hamdānī’s Yemen: A Survey from Early Islamic Geographical Texts.' Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 52(3), 2009, pp. 382-412.

-'Making "Medieval" Islam Meaningful.' Medieval Encounters 13(3), 2007, pp. 385-412.

-'Reflections on Fieldwork in Yemen: The Genealogy of a Diary in Response to Rabinow's Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco.' Anthropology of the Middle East 1(2), 2006, pp. 35-62.

-'Terminology for Plough Cultivation in Yemeni Arabic.' Journal of Semitic Studies, 49(1), 2004, pp. 71-129.

-'Agriculture in Rasulid Zabid.' Journal of Semitic Studies. Supplement 14. Studies on Arabia in Honour of Professor G. Rex Smith, edited by J. F. Healey and V. Porter, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 323-351.

-'Islamic Folk Astronomy.' In Helaine Selin, editor, The History of Non-Western, Astronomy. Astronomy Across Cultures, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000, pp. 615-650.

-'The Tribal Paradigm and the Genealogy of Muhammad.' Anthropological Quarterly, 68(3), 1995, pp. 139-156.

-'Indigenous Plant Protection Methods in Yemen.' GeoJournal 37(1), 1995, pp. 27-38.

-'The Astrological Significance of the Lunar Stations in the 13th Century Rasulid Text of al-Malik al-Ashraf.' Quaderni di Studi Arabi 13, 1995, pp. 19-40.

-'The Agricultural Marker Stars in Yemeni Folklore.' Asian Folklore Studies 52, 1993, pp. 119-142.

-'The Origin of the Anwā' in Arab Tradition.' Studia Islamica 74, 1992, pp. 5-28.

-'Land Use and Agricultural Development in the Yemen Arab Republic.' In M. Salem Murdock and M. Horowitz, editors, Anthropology and Development in North Africa and the Middle East, Boulder: Westview Press, 1989, pp.292-311.

-'On the Meaning of Chewing: The Significance of Qāt (Catha edulis) in the Yemen Arab Republic.' International Journal of Middle East Studies 18(1), 1986, pp. 1-13.

-'The Production of Sorghum (Dhurah) in Highland Yemen.' Arabian Studies 7, 1985, pp. 53-88.

-'Sayl and Ghayl: The Ecology of Water Allocation in Yemen.' Human Ecology 11, 1983, pp. 365-383.

-'The Ard in Highland Yemeni Agriculture.' Tools and Tillage 4(3), 1982, pp. 158-172.