Curriculum Vitae






Curriculum Vitae

Francesco Piraino

January 1984, Bari (Italy)

Postdoctoral Experience

IDEMEC (CNRS) Institut d’ethnologie méditerranéenne, européenne et comparative, Aix-en- Provence, France
(January 2020- September 2020)
Postdoctoral Fellow in the project “soufisme en France / soufisme de France”.

Giorgio Cini Foundation (Venice, Italy)
(May 2017 – onward)
Director of the Centre for Comparative Studies on Civilizations and Spiritualties

KU Leuven University (Leuven, Belgium)
(September 2017 – September 2019)
Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Social Sciences


ANR Project Cirelanmed, IDEMEC – CNRS (Aix-en-Provence, France)
(February 2017)
Research fieldwork for “Circulations religieuses et ancrages méditerranéens. États et internationalisation des faits religieux contemporains. Europe du Sud, Maghreb, Moyen-Orient”

University of Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa)
(November – December 2016)
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Religious Studies Department, financed by the National Research Fund South

Centre Jacques Berque CNRS (Rabat, Morocco)
(April – June 2016)
Postdoctoral Fellow, financed by the Centre Jacques Berque (CNRS) and Cirelanmed ANR

Education and Training

Scuola Normale Superiore in co-tutorship with the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
(Italy – France) (November 2011 – February 2016)
Doctor Europaeus, Ph.D. in Sociology, graduated with highest honors
Supervisor prof. Vincenzo Pace and Danièle Hervieu-Léger.

Centre for Middle Eastern Studies CMES – Lund University (Lund, Sweden)
(September – October 2012 and September – November 2015)
Visiting PhD student, supervisor prof. Leif Steinberg

University of Aarhus (Aarhus, Denmark)
(January – February 2015)
Visiting PhD student, supervisor prof. Mark Sedgwick

University of Padua (Padua, Italy)
(September 2006 – October 2010)
Master in Sociology, final mark: 110 cum laude/110

Ca’ Foscari University (Venice, Italy)
(September 2002 – July 2006)
Bachelor in Philosophy, final mark 105/110

Education and Training as Photographer

Magnum Workshop (Paris, France)
(20-21 April 2018)
Photographic workshop with Patrick Zachmann and Xavier Barral.

KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium)
(October 2017 – January 2018)
Advanced and intermediate courses at KU Leuven Photographic Club with professor Ivan Derbiesen



PIRAINO, Francesco and Mark SEDGWICK. (forthcoming 2018) (eds). Global Sufism: Reconfiguring Narratives, Boundaries and Identities. London: Hurst.

Peer Reviewed Articles

(1) Francesco Piraino. 2019. “Esotericisation and De-esotericisation of Sufism in Italy” Correspondences, vol. 7(1).

(2) Francesco Piraino. 2019. “Les Politiques du Soufisme en France”, Social Compass, 66(1): 134-146.

(3) Francesco Piraino and Laura Zambelli. 2018. “Queer Muslims in South Africa: Engaging Islamic Tradition”. Journal for Islamic Studies, 37: 123-147.

(4) Francesco Piraino. 2016. “René Guénon et son héritage dans le soufisme du XXIème siècle”, Religiologiques, n. 31 pp. 155-180.

(5) Francesco Piraino. 2016. “Between Real and Virtual Communities: Sufism in Western societies and the Naqshbandi Haqqani case”, Social Compass, vol. 63(1), pp. 93-108.

*Awarded Best Article 2017 by the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR)

(6) Francesco Piraino and Laura Zambelli. 2015. “Mamma Schiavona and Santa Rosalia, popular worship: between religiosity and identity”, Critical Research on Religion, vol. 3(3), pp. 266-281.

(7) Francesco Piraino. 2011. “Entrare nel sé divino: un confronto etnografico tra mistica cristiana e mistica musulmana”, Religioni e Società, vol. 71, pp. 97-105.

Peer Reviewed Chapters in Edited Books

(1) Francesco Piraino and Antonio de Diego González. (forthcoming). “Sufism in Latin Europe” in Marcia Hermansen and Saeed Zarrabi-Zadeh, Encyclopaedia of Islamic Mysticism – Handbook of Sufi Studies. Leiden: Brill.

(2) Francesco Piraino. (forthcoming). “Pèlerinages, voyages et ziyārāt soufis entre Nord et Sud de la Méditerranée : différents modes d’ancrages religieux et social”, in Katia Boissevain et Loïc le Pape, De la complexité des chemins religieux en Méditerranée. Conversions, apprentissages et ancrages. Paris: Khartala.

(3) Francesco Piraino. 2019. “Who is the Infidel? Religious boundaries and social change in the Shadhiliyya Darqawiyya Alawiyya” in Francesco Piraino and Mark Sedgwick, Global Sufism: Reconfiguring Narratives, Boundaries and Identities. London: Hurst.

(4) Francesco Piraino. 2017. “Pilgrimages in European Sufism”, in Richard Natvig and Ingvild Flaskereud (eds), Muslim Pilgrimage in Europe. London – New York: Routledge.

(5) Francesco Piraino and Laura Zambelli. 2014. “Mamma Schiavona and Santa Rosalina: tra religiosità e identità”, in Pace V., Berzano L. and Castagnaro A. (eds), La religione popolare nella società post-secolare. Padova: Messaggero, pp. 319-332.

(6) Francesco Piraino 2014. “European Sufism and its Social and Political Role. The Fluidity of Identities”, in Erkan Toguslu, Ding Yuan and Johan Leman (eds), Developing a sense of Belonging in Diverse Societies: Hui-Muslims in China and Muslims in Europe, Workshop Proceedings, KU Leuven Gulen Chair, pp. 171-185.

Other Publications

(1) Francesco Piraino. (forthcoming). “Review Alireza Doostdar. 2018. The Iranian Metaphysicals Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Aries.

(2) Francesco Piraino. 2016. “Le soufisme au Maroc : entre mysticisme et politique. Review: Bouasria, Abdelilah. 2015. Sufism and Politics in Morocco, Activism and Dissent. New York: Routledge”, Société Suisse Moyen-Orient et Civilisation islamique (SSMOCI), Bulletin 42, pp. 54-55.

(3) Francesco Piraino. 2014. “Bruno Guiderdoni—Among Sufism, Traditionalism and Science: A Reply to Bigliardi”. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, vol. 3(11), pp. 21-24.

As Photographer

(1) Francesco Piraino. 2018. “Queering a Mary Icon: a photographic tour of a religious pilgrimage in Southern Italy”. Mr Ma’am 2018.

(2) Francesco Piraino. 2017. Pictures in Andrea Brigaglia and Mauro Nobili (eds), The Arts and Crafts of Literacy: Islamic Manuscripts in Cultures in Sub-Saharan Africa. Berlin: De Gruyter.


Prizes Awarded

Best Article Award 2017 – ISSR/SISR International Society for the Sociology of Religion.
For : PIRAINO, Francesco. (2016). “Sufism in Western societies, between real and virtual communities: an overview and the Naqshbandi Haqqani case”, Social Compass, vol. 63(1), pp. 93-108.

Merit scholarship 2016 – Giorgio Cini Foundation

Conferences Organized

“Contesting in the Name of Religion in “Secularised” Societies Between Doctrine and Militancy” in collaboration with Claude Proeschel (GSRL EPHE-CNRS) David Koussens (Université de Sherbrooke) Valérie Amiraux (Université de Montréal) Frédéric Volpi (Edinburgh University), Venice 4-5 April 2019.


“Embodying Scientific Medicine and Religious Healing, A Comparative Perspective on Exorcism and Non-Voluntary Spirit Possession” in collaboration with prof. Andrea De Antoni (Ritsumeikan University – Kyoto) at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 13-14-15 December 2018.


“Common and Comparative Esotericisms” in collaboration with Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University) and Dilek Sarmis (EHESS) at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 12-13-14 June 2018.

“Political Islam in Europe” in collaboration with Mohammed Ben Salah (Mohammed VI University) and Khalid Rhazzali (Padua University) at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 15-16 December 2017.

“Transnational Sufism in contemporary Societies: reconfiguring narratives, identities and boundaries” in collaboration with Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University) at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 10-11-12 November 2017.


ISSR – International Society for the Sociology of Religion 

University of Barcelona (9-12 July). Paper presented: “A Sufi Network in the Transnational Public Sphere”.


7th Biannual Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism 

University of Amsterdam (2-4 July 2019). Paper presented: “Understanding Dreams: Sufism and Psychoanalysis in Milan”.


117th Conference of the American Anthropological Association 

San José (San Francisco) (14-18/11/2018). Paper presented: “Sufism and Politics in North Africa: Between Powers and Societies”.


14ème Congrès national de science politique
Université de Montpellier (10-12/07/2017). Paper presented: “Soufisme et politique”.


ISSR – International Society for the Sociology of Religion,
University of Lausanne (4-7/07/2017). Paper presented: “Soufisme, politique et écologie”

6th Conference of th European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism ESSWE – Western Esotericism and Deviance
University of Erfurt (1-3/06/2017). Paper presented: “Negotiating Orthodoxy and Deviance Among Sufi Orders in Milan”.

Circulations religieuses et ancrages méditerranéens, Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain IRMC
Tunis (23-24/11/2016). Paper presented: “Au-delà des frontières du croire : le soufisme transnational”

First Euro-Arab Meeting for Young Researchers in Social Sciences
Knowledge Transfer Project Manama, Bahrein (19-25/10/2015). Paper presented: “Le développement du soufisme en Europe: éthiques et politiques”.

International Society for Media, Religion and Culture
University of Kent, Canterbury (4-6/08/2014). Paper presented: “Sufism in western societies, between real and virtual communities: an overview and the Naqshbandi Haqqani case”

Developing a sense of belonging in diverse societies: Muslims in Europe and Hui-Muslims in China
University of Leuven, Belgium (14/05/2014). Paper presented: “The fluid identities in European Sufism and its social and political role”.

Pilgrimages in European Islam
University of Bergen (03-03/10/2013). Paper presented: “Pilgrimages in European Sufism”.

Witchcraft, Magic and Popular Religion XI Gustav Vasa Seminar
University of Jyväskylä, (11-12/06/2013). Paper presented: “Mamma Schiavona and Santa Rosalia: between identity and spirituality”.

La religione popolare nella società post secolare
University of Padua, (19-20/10/2012). Paper presented: “Santa Rosalia e Mamma Schiavona: tra religiosità e identità”.

Seminars and Lectures

KU Leuven, invited by prof. Dick Houtman “Sufism and Islam” (KU Leuven, Belgium, 24/04/2018).

Une Méditerranée connectée. Anthropologie des religions et introduction aux humanité numériques. Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain IRMC, (Tunis, Tunisia, 26-30/11/2016).
Université Moulay Ismaïl de Meknès, invited by prof. Khalid Mouna and prof. Mohammed Fadil « Conversion à l’Islam pour une sociologie des conversions » (Meknès, Morocco, 16/05/2016).

Université International de Rabat – Science Po Rabat, invited by prof. Sophie Bava and prof. Farid El Asri « Soufisme contemporain : éthiques et politiques entre le Maghreb et l’Europe » (Rabat, Morocco, 20/04/2016).
Centre Jacques Berque de Rabat – CNRS, invited by prof. Sabrina Mervin
« Soufisme et politique entre Europe et Maghreb » (Rabat, Morocco,

Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University, invited by prof. Leif Stenberg “European Sufism: Ethics and Politics” (Lund, Sweden, 13/11/2015).

Research Group CIRELANMED – Circulation religieuses et ancrages méditerranéens. États et internationalisation des faits religieux contemporains. Europe du Sud, Maghreb, Moyen-Orient “Les pèlerinages dans le soufisme européen” (Padua, Italy, 6-7/11/2015).

University of Padua, “Master Islam d’Europa”, invited by Enzo Pace and Khalid Rhazzali “Introduzione al Sufismo, Sufismo europeo”, (Padua, Italy, 18/04/2013).

Aarhus University, invited by prof. Henrik Reintoft Christensen “Sociology of religion, sociology of conversion” (Aarhus, Denmark, 24/02/2015).

Aarhus University, invited by prof. Mark Sedgwick “Pathways of religious conversion in European Sufism” (Aarhus, Denmark, 12/02/2015).

University of Southern Denmark, invited by prof. Dietrich Jun and Mark Sedgwick “Modern Muslim Subjectivities” (Odense, Denmark, 20/01/2015).

University of Padua, “Master Islam d’Europa”, invited by Enzo Pace and Khalid Rhazzali “I pellegrinaggi nel Sufismo europeo” (Padua, Italy, 23/10/2013).

École Pratique des Hautes Études, invited by prof. Jean Pierre Brach “René Guénon et son héritage dans le Soufisme du XXIème siècle” (Paris, France, 02/06/2013).

American University of Paris, invited by prof. Waddick Doyle “Religious Conversions and construction of self-identity: between theory and fieldwork” (Paris, France, 19/04/2013).

Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University, invited by prof. Leif Stenberg “Sufism among European converts” (Lund, Sweden, 31/10/2013).


Funding Awarded

ESSWE, Travel Grant, May 2017, (Germany), 300 EUR.
Cirelanmed CNRS – Aix-en Provence, Research Grant, January-February 2017, (France), 2,000 EUR.
Cape Town University, Research Grant, November 2016 (South Africa), 19,520 ZAR.
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Merit Scholarship, July 2016 (Italy), 1,200 EUR.
Cirelanmed CNRS – Aix-en Provence, Research Grant, April-June 2016, (France), 3,400 EUR.
Centre Jacques Berque CNRS – Rabat, Research Grant, April 2016, (France-Morocco), 800 EUR.
Padua University, Travel Grant, November 2015 (Italy), 600 EUR.
Lerici Foundation, Research Grant, September-November 2015, (Sweden), 20,000 SEK.
AUFF Guest Aarhus University, Researcher Grant, January-February 2015 (Denmark), 20,000 DKK.
Erasmus traineeship, January-February 2015, (European Union), 900 EUR.
Scuola Normale Superiore, PhD Scholarship 2011-2014, (Italy), 40,950 EUR.


Founding Member of ENSIE
(2016 – onward). European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE), a thematic network of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE,
Founding Member of the ICSOR
(2016 – onward). International Center for Sociology of Religion,
Member of the AFSP
(2017 – onward) Association Française de Science Politique,
Member of the ISSR
(2017 – onward) “International Society for the Sociology of Religion”
Collaboration with Cirelanmed, CNRS – Aix-en Provence, France
(2015 – onward). I work with the research group Cirelanmed, Circulations religieuses et ancrages méditerranéens. États et internationalisation des faits religieux contemporains. Europe du Sud, Maghreb, Moyen-Orient (Financée par l’Agence nationale pour la recherche – ANR).
Collaboration with « Master de l’Islam d’Europa » – Padua University
(2013 – onward). I am working with this Master as researcher, teacher, discussant, interpreter and tutoring Master’s students.

Other information

Language Skills:

Italian: native speaker.

English: fluent (C1)

French: fluent (C1)

Arabic: (A2), but I am improving.

IT Skills:

Excellent knowledge of Mac and Windows operating systems.
Excellent knowledge of Office package (Word, Excel, Power Point).
Good Knowledge of SPSS – statistic data analysis.
Good Knowledge of Photoshop – Photographic postproduction.