Brendan Newlon


Brendan specializes in religious studies and Islamic studies. His interdisciplinary approach to research blends historical ethnography, quantitative network science, discourse analysis, and translation studies. Recurring themes in his scholarship include identity, community, networks, and issues relating to languages and translation. His early graduate research on Islam in China focused on representations and theories of Chinese Muslim identities, and his doctoral research explored the parallel topics of American Muslim identities and communities. In the course of this work, he developed a polythetic model of community that considers exchanges of discourse, networks of interaction, and aesthetic signalling practices used to express a community identity or affiliation.

Current Role

Brendan is a post-doctoral fellow for the Societal Advancement Insights and Impact Group. He is interested in advancing research in the field of community nonprofit leadership, especially as it relates to the unique needs and concerns of minority religious communities in America.

Areas of Expertise

Religous Studies, Islam in America and in China, Islamic Theology and Law, Religious Organizations and Leadership, Minority Identities, Translation, Education

Educational Background

Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California in Santa Barbara; M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California in Santa Barbara; B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California in Santa Barbara with a minor in Chinese.

Professional Affiliations

Brendan is a member of the American Academy of Religion (AAR)

Curriculum Vitae

Prior to joining CCL, Brendan was a Teaching Associate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara where he taught courses on Islamic Traditions and Islam in Modernity. As an educator, he favors innovative teaching methodologies that engage students and facilitate long-term learning. This value led him to produce several English translations of Chinese and Arabic Islamic texts, including rhyming translations that are intended to be memorized as aids to learning and teaching.

See Brendan’s Curriculum Vitae

Select External Publications

Honors, Awards, Grants

  • Professor Charles Wendell Memorial Award in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Presented by the Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara (2017).
  • US Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for advanced Mandarin Chinese. Summers awarded: 2009 (in Shanghai) and 2010 (in Beijing). Academic years awarded: 2008 and 2009 (at University of California, Santa Barbara).

Current Projects

Societal Advancement Theory of Change

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