David Sander


David Sander studies world history through the history of religions. He is interested in how “history” both shapes and is formed by religious experience, thought and expression. This approach connects him both to specialized study in Islamic, African and Indian traditions and to global questions in world history. He explores how mystical thought has been expressed and interpreted in different historical contexts, and, in turn, mainstreamed or marginalized by dominant structures in society. His research focuses on ways in which popular culture has carried or otherwise responded to mystical thought. He is interested in the imagination, as a tool of historical inquiry. He seeks and evaluates historical evidence for symbolic language that can communicate across cultural and religious divides.

Related interests include historiography and historical theory, comparative mythologies, literacies and poetics, surrealism, cultural imagination of ecology, the life and work of William Blake, and the films and artistic theory of Andrei Tarkovsky. His work has been published in a number of academic journals related to the study of religion and history. His latest published writing has included a study of mysticism and Islamic reform in contemporary film. An article pending publication describes how historical consciousness is explored through surreal methods in two Islamicate films.


  • Ph.D. Islamic Educational Foundations (1997) University of Colorado
  • M.A. Religious Studies (1991) University of Colorado
  • B.A. History and Religious Studies (1986) University of Colorado


  • Africa in Stories: History, Literature, and Film (HIS 323)
  • The Ancient Dead: Mummies and Other Ancestors (HIS 101/FYS 125)
  • History of India (HIS 295)
  • History of the Islamic World I (HIS 278)
  • History of the Islamic World II (HIS 290)
  • Shamans, Prophets and Saints: Mystics in World History (HIS 101/FYS 126)
  • World History I (HIS 271)
  • World History II (HIS 272)
  • World History Seminar (HIS 362)