Bianchi, Robert R. 1945–

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Bianchi, Robert R. 1945–

(Robert Bianchi, Robert Richard Bianchi)


Education: University of Chicago, Ph.D., J.D. Religion: Muslim.


International lawyer, consultant to government and international organizations; taught political science at the American University in Cairo, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Chicago.


Albert Hourani Book Prize for Guests of God.


Interest Groups and Political Development in Turkey, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1984.

Unruly Corporatism: Associational Life in Twentieth-Century Egypt, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.


In Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World, Robert R. Bianchi examines the hajj as a modern Islamic phenomenon. In the opening chapters of the study, he lays the groundwork for an examination of the role that the hajj plays in the politics and society of modern Islamic countries. He notes that the hajj is one of the most important duties of a Muslim, constituting one of the so-called five pillars of Islam. It refers to the obligation of every Muslim who is physically and financially able at least once in his or her life to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the city in Saudi Arabia that is Islam's most holy site. Bianchi bases his description in part on his personal hajj in 1989.

In addition to describing the hajj and its religious meaning for the roughly two million Muslims who attend each year, Bianchi notes that the pilgrimage to Mecca is a political event not only for the host country but also for other countries that send pilgrims each year. In making his case, he examines the hajj policies of five Islamic countries: Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia, and Nigeria. He then provides data, much of it in the form of tables, about the breakdown of pilgrims by age, gender, occupation, socioeconomic status, and other variables. His central thesis is that although the hajj is intended to be a gesture of unity in the Muslim world, in reality it can sometimes reflect political and social divisions as individual countries grapple with issues of participation, security, and financial subsidies. The result, according to Bianchi, is that the hajj can serve not only religious purposes but political ones as well.

Guests of God met with much praise. Writing in Foreign Affairs, contributor L. Carl Brown calls the book a "beautifully wrought study." Natana J. DeLong-Bas, writing for the Historian, found the book to be "the most multifaceted and comprehensive coverage of the contemporary Hajj from a global perspective that is currently available" as well as "readable, informative, and often funny." Although F.E. Peters, writing for the Middle East Journal, noted that the book has been "overtaken by history" because it does not take into account events since the turn of the twenty-first century, he still found the book "an achievement remarkable for its learning, its sophistication, its acuity and its sheer lucidity."



American Journal of Sociology, September, 1990, David Knoke, review of Unruly Corporatism: Associational Life in Twentieth-Century Egypt, p. 466.

American Political Science Review, March, 1991, Laurie Mylroie, review of Unruly Corporatism, p. 304.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, April, 2005, S.P. Blackburn, review of Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World, p. 1414.

Foreign Affairs, January 1, 2005, L. Carl Brown, review of Guests of God, p. 192.

Historian, summer, 2006, Natana J. DeLong-Bas, review of Guests of God.

International Journal of Middle East Studies, November, 1991, Marius Deeb, review of Unruly Corporatism, p. 640.

Middle East Journal, spring, 2005, F.E. Peters, review of Guests of God.

Social Forces, September, 1990, review of Unruly Corporatism, p. 341.


Oxford University Press Web site, (May 9, 2008), brief biography of the author.

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Bianchi, Robert R. 1945–

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