Charles Häberl is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures at Rutgers University. At the Academy, he worked on the history of the most widespread Mandaean folktale, the Bridge of Shushtar. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran are at once a people and the only modern gnostic community whose presence can be traced back uninterrupted to the pre-Islamic Middle East. Mandaean literature knows no genre comparable to histories in the conventional sense, and yet they have transmitted much about their long presence in the region through the extensive use of folktales. Their language and culture, Häberl argues, are key to understanding both the ancient and modern Near East.
21 Sep 16