Foltz, Richard C. 1961-

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FOLTZ, Richard C. 1961-


Born April 19, 1961, in Columbus, OH; married Aphrodite Désirée Navab (a photographer, cultural theorist, and art educator), 1994; children: one daughter. Education: University of Utah, B.A., 1987, M.A., 1988; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1996. Politics: Green Party of Florida. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking and camping, winter sports, environmental issues, world music, organic gardening, and xeriscaping (low-water landscaping).


Office—Department of Religion, Anderson Hall 107, University of Florida, Box 117410, Gainesville, FL 32611-1740. E-mail—[email protected]


Educator and author. Freelance journalist, 1983-90; University of Utah, Salt Lake City, English-as-a-second-language (ESL) program, instructor, 1987-88; Kuwait University, instructor in Faculty of Commerce, 1988-89; University of California, Los Angeles, ESL instructor, 1990; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, ESL instructor, 1991-96; Brown University, Providence, RI, visiting assistant professor of religion, 1996-97; Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, Department of Religion, visiting assistant professor 1997-98; Columbia University, New York, NY, visiting lecturer of religion and affiliate faculty member of Earth Institute, Center for Science and Religion, Middle East Institute, Southern Asian Institute, and Harriman Institute, 1998-2000; University of Florida, Gainesville, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of religion and affiliate faculty member of School of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of History, and Asian studies program, 2000—. Composer and performer of original music; performed on recordings Men without Qualities (with trio Pravda), 1985, and What Were We Thinking?, Deep Green Records, 2002.


American Academy of Religion, Iranian Studies Association, Association of Asian Studies, Sierra Club.


Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, 1987; Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships for Persian and for Arabic, 1987-88; Academy for Educational Development National Strategic Educational Program (NSEP) graduate fellowship, 1994-96.


Mughal India and Central Asia, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(Translator) Mutribi al-Asamm Samarqandi, Conversations with Emperor Jahangir, Mazda (Costa Mesa, CA), 1998.

Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor) Worldviews, Religion, and the Environment: A Global Anthology, Thomson/Wadsworth (Belmont, CA), 2003.

(Editor, with Frederick M. Denny and Azizan Baharuddin) Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School/Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World's Religions, Oneworld (Oxford, England), 2004.

Environmentalism in the Contemporary Muslim World, Nova Science Publishers (Hauppauge, NY), 2005.

Also author of numerous journal articles and book reviews for a variety of academic publications, including History Teacher, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, and Studies in Contemporary Islam. Author of numerous book chapters and encyclopedia entries, including book chapters for Post-Soviet Central Asia, Tauris (London, England), 1998; Food for Thought: The Debate on Vegetarianism, Prometheus Books (New York, NY), 2004; A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion and Ethics, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2004; and A Handbook of Religion and Ecology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.


Fiction tentatively called Ameena: A Postmodern Tale of Role-Playing and Assimilation.


Richard C. Foltz, who speaks fluent French and Persian, is the author of several books reflecting his interest in Muslim civilizations, Iranian studies, religion and nature, the environment, and animal rights and vegetarianism. In his first book, Mughal India and Central Asia, Foltz focuses on the sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Mughal Empire and the question of whether or not the empire perceived itself as part of a culturally united Islamic world, which included states in Persia, Central Asia, and India. Foltz points out that there was much trade between Central Asia and Mughal India and a sense of sharing in common heritage. Writing in the Journal of World History, David Christian noted that many obstacles, such as the once-difficult task of conducting research on both sides of the cold war's so-called Iron Curtain, stood in the way of determining the "unity of this world." Christian went on to comment, "Foltz recreates this world superbly. His book is well constructed … and is remarkably concise. He packs a lot into a mercifully short book."

In his next book, Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, Foltz describes how cultural traditions and religious ideas spread across the Silk Road as merchants and their goods traveled the fabled Asian trade route. According to Foltz, as early as three thousand years ago, Hebraic and Iranian religious ideas and practices were carried eastward on the route. Other religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, spread centuries later. Foltz, however, reveals that the Silk Road was more than just a trade route that happened to be a conduit for religion and other ideas traveling with those transporting concrete goods. As the author sees it, the route was a dynamic meeting ground of cultures, and no religious thought that made the journey remained the same by the time it reached the end.

Reviews of Religions of the Silk Road centered on Foltz's ability to distill complex ideas into straightforward prose. Journal of World History contributor James R. Corcoran called Religions of the Silk Road a "concise, compact work" and praised Foltz, noting that he "excels at concise explanations of the development of the many religions scattered throughout the central Asian area of the Silk Road." Corcoran also commented, "Throughout this excellent book Professor Foltz makes clear the importance of trade and cultural exchanges in the unfolding of history, not only in Central Asia but as aptly applied to the interpretation of the history of all regions of the globe." David M. Kalivas wrote in the Journal of Asian Studies that the book serves as "a wonderful counterweight to romanticized notions of the … Silk Road." The reviewer added, "Foltz masterfully deals with disparate histories from one point of the compass to its seeming opposite, while weaving a wonderfully lucid story of merchants, pilgrims, and missionaries."

Foltz writes about Iran's dramatic influence on the religions of the world in his 2004 book Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World's Religions. From the ancient kings of Persia to Iranian thought found in Buddhism to Christian influences such as St. Augustine, Foltz reveals the instrumental role Iran has played in shaping contemporary civilization and religions. Foltz also delves into the twenty-first-century Islamic regime in Iran and the country's various other religious communities. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book a "helpful survey" that clearly demonstrates that Iran's influence went far beyond Christianity as it affected Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and the Baha'i faith. Glenn Masuchika, writing in Library Journal, stated that Foltz makes "compelling arguments" that many religions and faiths were "deeply influenced and irrevocably changed as they were carried by merchants through this Iranian filter." Masuchika went on to note that "there is enough in this rich book to delight the casual reader of comparative religions and to convince the serious religion scholar that the author's thesis demands further investigation."



History: Review of New Books, winter, 2000, Sandra A. Wawrytko, review of Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, p. 85.

Journal of Asian Studies, August, 2001, David M. Kalivas, review of Religions of the Silk Road, p. 861.

Journal of World History, fall, 2001, David Christian, review of Mughal India and Central Asia, p. 476; spring, 2002, James R. Corcoran, review of Religions of the Silk Road, p. 211.

Library Journal, April 15, 2004, Glenn Masuchika, review of Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World's Religions, p. 90.

Middle East Journal, summer, 2004, Nora Achrati, review of Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust, p. 534.

Publishers Weekly, February 9, 2004, review of Spirituality in the Land of the Noble, p. 77.


Richard C. Foltz Home Page, (October 13, 2004).*