A historian of the pre-modern Middle East, Professor Chase F. Robinson served as president of The Graduate Center from 2013 to 2018 and as provost from 2008 to 2013.
As president, Robinson deepened The Graduate Center’s commitment to advanced learning and education for the public good. With his leadership, The Graduate Center enhanced its reputation for excellence in scholarship and teaching. He ensured that The Graduate Center attracted record levels of philanthropic support and increased both its selectivity and its diversity. During his tenure, The Graduate Center acquired the Advanced Science Research Center, a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research facility that is the focus of CUNY's investment in the experimental sciences.
As Graduate Center provost, Robinson led the institution's first comprehensive planning process. He secured major funding to enhance faculty support, helped establish The Graduate Center at the forefront of the digital evolution within higher education, expanded the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, and launched the Advanced Research Collaborative, the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences, and the CUNY Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context. During his tenure, The Graduate Center made major investments in financial aid and hired more than two dozen scholar-teachers of national and international standing, including its first Nobel laureate.
A scholar of Islamic history and culture, Robinson has authored or edited nine books and more than 40 articles that span the geographical and chronological breadth of the pre- and early-modern Islamic Middle East. They include A Medieval Islamic City Reconsidered: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Samarra
(2001); Texts, Documents and Artefacts: Islamic Studies in Honour of D.S. Richards
(2003); and the first volume of The New Cambridge History of Islam
(2010). A recent book, Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years
(2016), was translated into Arabic and Portuguese. His most recent work is The Works of Ibn Wadih al-Ya’qubi: An English Translation
(2017), a co-edited, three-volume set of translations of some of the earliest works of history and geography in Arabic. He is the general editor of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization,
a member of the editorial board of Past & Present
, and conducts research in several European and Middle Eastern languages.
Robinson received an A.B. (Honors) from Brown University, and studied at the American University in Cairo, the University of Cairo, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1992, he earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. In 1993, he joined the Faculty of Oriental Studies and Wolfson College, Oxford, where he taught for 14 years. From 1999 to 2000, he was a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and in 2005 he received a two-year British Academy Research Readership. As chairman of the Faculty Board of Oriental Studies at Oxford, he put in place the department’s first academic plan and forged new relationships with international donors and academic institutions in the Middle East and Asia.
Robinson is on leave during his tenure as the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian.
Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years (University of California Press Books, November 2016) (ISBN: 9780520292987; Hardcover, 272 pages)
In Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives, the distinguished historian of Islam Chase F. Robinson draws on the long tradition in Muslim scholarship of commemorating in writing the biographies of notable figures, but he weaves these ambitious lives together to create a rich narrative of Islamic civilization, from the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century to the era of the world conquerer Timur and the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in the fifteenth.
Beginning in Islam’s heartland, Mecca, and ranging from North Africa and Iberia in the west to Central and East Asia, Robinson not only traces the rise and fall of Islamic states through the biographies of political and military leaders who worked to secure peace or expand their power, but also discusses those who developed Islamic law, scientific thought, and literature. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of rich and diverse Islamic societies. Alongside the famous characters who colored this landscape—including Muhammad’s cousin ’Ali; the Crusader-era hero Saladin; and the poet Rumi—are less well-known figures, such as Ibn Fadlan, whose travels in Eurasia brought fascinating first-hand accounts of the Volga Vikings to the Abbasid Caliph; the eleventh-century Karima al-Marwaziyya, a woman scholar of Prophetic traditions; and Abu al-Qasim Ramisht, a twelfth-century merchant millionaire.
'Abd al-Malik (Oneworld Press, 2005) (ISBN 1-85168-361-5; 139 pp. + xv)
Reviews: International Journal of Middle East Studies 39 (2007); Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques 23 (2007); Middle Studies Association Bulletin 41 (2007); The Times Literary Supplement (July 14, 2006).
Islamic Historiography (Cambridge University Press, 2003) (ISBN 0-521-62081; 237 pp. + xxv)
Persian translation (Teheran, 2009; rev. forthcoming)
Reviews: Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 15 (2004); EurasianStudies 11 (2003); Middle East and South Asia Folklore Bulletin 20 (2004); al-Masaq 17 (2005); The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 21 (2004); Choice (July, 2003); Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques 22 (2006); Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 49 (2006); Welt des Islams 47 (2007).
Empire and Elites after the Muslim Conquest: The Transformation of Northern Mesopotamia (Cambridge University Press, 2000) (ISBN 0-521-781159; 206 pp. + xv).
Reviews: The Historian 65 (2003); American Historical Review 108 (2003); Journal of Islamic Studies 13 (2002); Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques 19 (2003); Journal of the American Oriental Society 123 (2003); Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-faith Studies 3 (2001); Le Moyen Age 3-4 (2002); Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62 (2002); History 57 (2002); American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 20 (2003); Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 37 (2003); Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques 19 (2003); Studies in Contemporary Islam 4 (2002).
The Oxford History of Historical Writing, general ed. D. Woolf, co-editor (with S. Foot) of Volume 2: Historical Writing, 600-1400 (Oxford, 2012) (ISBN 978-0-19-923642-8; 720 pp.)
The Formation of Islam, sixth to eleventh century, vol. 1 of the 6-volume New Cambridge History of Islam, general ed. M.A. Cook (Cambridge, 2010) (ISBN 978-0-521-83823-8; 852 pp. + xxxviii).
Winner of the Waldo G. Leland Prize awarded by the American Historical Association
Reviews: The Telegraph (November 10, 2011); Sehepunkte (2012).
Texts, Documents and Artefacts: Islamic Studies in Honour of D.S. Richards (E.J. Brill, 2003) (ISBN 0929-2403; 417 pp. + xiii).
Reviews: Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, 38 (2004); Journal of Oriental and African Studies 14 (2005); Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15 (2005); Journal of Semitic Studies 51 (2006).
A Medieval Islamic City Reconsidered: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Samarra, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art (Oxford University Press, 2001) (ISBN 0-19-728024-2; 207 pp.).
Reviews: Journal of Islamic Studies 15 (2004); MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies 4 (2004).