Robert Hefner

Professor of Anthropology and International Relations; Director, Center for the Study of Asia

Robert W. Hefner is professor of anthropology and global affairs at the Pardee School of Global Affairs at Boston University. During 2009-2010 he served as president of the American Association for Asian Studies. He currently (2021-2024) is the president of the American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS) and director of the Center for the Study of Asia at BU. From 1986-2017, he served as the director or associate direct of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) at Boston University. At CURA, he directed the program on Islam and society since 1991; coordinated more than 25 interdisciplinary research and public policy programs on religion, pluralism, and world affairs; and coordinated comparative, team-research projects on politics, social conflict, and citizenship in Indonesia and other Muslim-majority countries.

With the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation, from 2018-2-23 co-produced six films on “Indonesian Pluralities: Religion and Pluralist Co-Existence,” with Dr. Zainal Abidin Bagir of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and Society at the University of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta. During 2008-2009, he was invited by Stanford University and the National University of Singapore to be the first Lee Kong Chian Fellow in Southeast Asian Studies. From 2001 to 2007, he was the founding editor for the Society for the Anthropology of Religion’s book series on “Contemporary Anthropology of Religion” at Palgrave-MacMillan Press.

Hefner has directed some 21 research projects and organized 16 international conferences, drawing on specialists from political science, sociology, religious studies, anthropology, and law. Hefner has authored or edited twenty one books. His most recent book (January 2024) is Islam and Citizenship: Democratic Indonesia and the Quest for an Inclusive Public Ethics.