Our Department's Newest Addition
Mustafa Banister has just started his first semester here at Utah State University. While trying to finally get the right office keys and settle into his new home, he has also been teaching students about the pre-modern world and medieval Islam. And, if talent aligns with passion, these classes should prove to be quite entertaining. Mustafa has always held an inner desire to be a standup comic and has loved holding a classroom’s attention since his elementary school days. According to him, he would “jealously guard the class clown title from any potential contenders.” This old ambition, along with his teenage dreams of becoming a sketch artist, have combined to become the dream he’s living today: teaching history with lots of humor and pictures.
Mustafa cemented his decision to pursue academia as a senior studying history at Eastern Michigan University. Even when his degree was coming to a close, he felt that he was just getting started. (Not your everyday senior, as some here might tell you!) His educational career took him to the University of Chicago, University of Toronto, University of Bonn in Germany and Ghent University in Belgium. While studying in such diverse places, he cultivated a love for the material culture of the medieval Middle East—all of its manuscript illustrations, coins, decoration and architecture.
Although Logan is a long way from places like Germany and Belgium, Mustafa is very happy to be in Cache Valley with all of its beautiful outdoor opportunities. Mustafa is delighted to be back in the States after so many years abroad, but he does hope to someday encounter cities like Baghdad, Damascus, Aleppo, Isfahan, or Tabriz and cross them off of his historian bucket list. He admits to feeling jealous of old professors and their stories of travelling freely around the Middle East and hopes to one day join in some storytelling of his own.
Mustafa is currently researching a Syrian scholar named Ibn ‘Arabshah (1389-1450), a poet and historian who traveled all over the Middle East and Central Asia after he was kidnapped as a boy by the conqueror Tamerlane. Mustafa is very interested in Ibn ‘Arabshah’s word choices in various works of history and biography and how he used historical narratives to help create political order during his lifetime.
When he is not busy researching, Mustafa loves to be outside, go on adventures with his kids, read historical novels, watch historical documentaries and grow his coin collection. He puts it best when he says, “I think I’m just naturally drawn toward the past like a magnet, even in my spare time!”
Welcome to the department, Mustafa! We’re so happy to have you.