Published Books
Daniel Martin Varisco

President, The American Institute for Yemeni Studies

online curriculum vitae

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Updated 11/17

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

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"There is a lot of commentary available on Edward Said and Orientalism, but nothing like this. Varisco has compiled a comprehensive, critical overview of nearly everything that has been said on the topic. The notes and bibliography alone are a significant contribution to scholarship on Said and his work, but Varisco also uses his vast wealth of sources as the basis for a devastating critique of Said's methodology and conclusions - a critique that fairly acknowledges the beneficial consequences of Orientalism and the issues it raises."
-- Walter G. Andrews, University of Washington


Robert Irwin, TLS, May 7, 2008; Anouar Majid, American Literary History, 21(3):633-646, 2009; Siegfried Kohlhammer, Merkur (Deutsches Zeitschrift f. europäisches Denken), 717:151-164, 2009; Carl Olson, The Review of Politics, 71(1):146-149, 2009; A. N. Isstaif, Journal of Islamic Studies 20(2):304-306, 2009; Khalid Haji, Al-Jazeera ( 4/12/2008; Matthew Abraham, Logos, 8(2), 2009.


Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation.
Society for the Anthropology of Religion Series. New York: Palgrave, 2005

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"In Islam Obscured Daniel Varisco offers a brilliant and nuanced analysis of four influential anthropologists against the backdrop of older, less field-based ethnographies of Muslim societies. His penetrating critiques of the influential works of Clifford Geertz, Ernest Gellner, Fatima Mernissi, and Akbar Ahmed lead to a probing discussion of the challenges facing the anthropology of Islam in the twenty-first century."
Richard Martin, Emory University


Timothy Daniels, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 25(2):123-125, Spring, 2008; Muhammad Talib, Journal of Islamic Studies, 18(2):254-257, 2007.


The Manuscript of al-Malik al-Afdal: al-'Abbas b. 'Ali Dawud b. Yusuf b. 'Umar b. 'Ali Ibn Rasul (d. 778/1377): A Medieval Arabic Anthology from the Yemen. (Editor, with G. R. Smith).
London: Gibb Memorial Trust, 1998.


[Facsimile edition of a 600 page Yemeni manuscript which I photographed in Yemen in 1978. It consists of texts written by and compiled for a Yemeni sultan of the 14th century, including excerpts from many texts no longer extant. As such it is a valuable resources for a range of scholars who study the medieval Middle East. I indexed the text and wrote the introduction with the assistance of Prof. G. Rex Smith (Manchester University). Reviews have appeared in Die Welt des Orients, Journal of Islamic Studies, and Yemen Update.]

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


[Collection of one original and 15 previously published articles. These describe my research on traditional Yemeni agriculture, seasonal almanac lore, medieval Yemeni agricultural, and astronomical texts. Reviews have appeared in Bulletin of the Middle East Studies Association and al-’Usur al-Wusta.]
Medieval Agriculture and Islamic Science. The Almanac of a Yemeni Sultan [Arabic edition, English translation, commentary]. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994. xv, 349 pp.
[Arabic edition, English translation, commentary. First major study of the almanac tradition in Yemen. The methodology for the book combines ethnographic study of traditional Yemeni agriculture and dialect with a historical study of a 13th century Yemeni almanac. One of the publisher’s reviewers of the manuscript, Prof. A. I. Sabra of Harvard University, said that “No library concerned with the history of science, economic and agricultural history, medieval technology, and anthropology can afford not to obtain a copy of this book.” Reviews have appeared in Asian Folklore Studies, British Journal of Middle East Studies, Bull. of the Middle East Studies Association, Bull. of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Choice, Historische Zeitschrift, Isis, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Journal for the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of Semitic Studies, al-Ma'thûrât al-Sha'biyya, Spaeculum, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften.]

“This is a superb book. The author, an anthropologist by training, has all the right qualities for the task at hand: he has spent time in the field and knows Yemenis and their everyday life extremely well; he also has a first-class knowledge of Arabic, both spoken and literary, including an evident competence to handle difficult medieval MS materials; moreover, he has a real feeling for history and everything is placed in its appropriate historical context.” G. Rex Smith, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1995

“This book is a most valuable and commendable addition to our knowledge of learned and popular medieval science and its application. It is relevant and important to areas far beyond its immediate subject. We are looking forward to further publications from this very talented scholar.” Gerrit Bos, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1996

“Varisco’s book, in particular his commentary, gives proof of how much information may be drawn out of a comparatively small piece of text if a scholar combines anthropological and linguistic skills with empirical knowledge gained in fieldwork, and does not shrink from the problems raised by the diversity of the material.”
Oliver Kahl, Journal of Semitic Studies, 1996

“Varisco schöpft für diese Untersuchung einer spröden Textgattung aus profunder Kenntnis der Materie, die er nicht nur durch intensive Quellenstudien, sondern auch durch lange Forschungsaufenthalte im Jemen erworben hat.” Silke Ackerman, Historische Zeitschrift, 1996

“En definitiva, todos y cada uno de los temas incluidos en este breve, pero rico, calendario, son estudiados de forma inteligente, agil y, al mismo tiempo, profunda, por D. M. Varisco.” Expiración Garcia, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1996

“A l’évidence cet Almanach d’un sultan yéménite selon Daniel Martin Varisco apporte beaucoup à la communauté scientifique.”
Lucie Bolens, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 1998.

“In sum, Varisco’s book is richly informative on cultural processes. One of the charges directed against academic “orientalism” had been its supposed preoccupation with elite esoterica. This volume makes every effort to understand “the other” and, with some interdisciplinary “translation,” it does illuminate the lifeways of common people.”
Karl Butzer, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 1997.