Olson, Caitlyn

Humanities Research Fellow Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Email: cmo316@nyu.edu
Education: BA, Middlebury College; MA, Harvard University; PhD, Harvard University

Research Areas: History of the early modern Maghrib, pre-modern Islamic education beyond the elite, Islamization, Islamic theology (kalam), historiography of Islamic theology


Caitlyn's research focuses on the early modern history of the Maghrib, examining both intellectual and social trends in Islamic theology. In August 2020, Caitlyn defended her dissertation in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her studies and research have taken her to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Spain, and Jordan.

As a fellow at NYUAD, Caitlyn will complete a monograph on the attitudes and practices of Maghribi scholars in the 15th-17th centuries toward the creedal beliefs of the broader, non-elite Muslim populace. Highlighting moments of controversy, the book demonstrates that while the scholars shared an intense concern with creed, they disagreed about the necessity, feasibility, and ethics of actively monitoring and disciplining the ideas of people in their communities. In addition to the monograph, Caitlyn will pursue research on Islamic theology in early modern West Africa and on 20th-century shifts in the practice and historiography of Islamic theology.