University of Michigan
American Muslim Fund
Saquib Ali Usman cultivated a spirit of caring for others throughout his life. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, his interests in cross-cultural engagement began in early in his childhood with periods of study and living in Pakistan, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In 2008, Saquib interned at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) where he gained valuable knowledge and skills in community organizing and direct services. After completing his undergraduate degree in International Studies and Arabic, Saquib worked for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School as a clinical researcher and iOS software developer until he formally turned his focus towards social sciences and history.
Supported by generous fellowships from the NSF-GRFP, Saquib’s dissertation work draws on sociocultural, linguistic, and historical perspectives to explore the world of blind performers, scholars and literary people in places across the Islamic world. His fieldwork focuses on the Maghreb, taking him to urban spaces like Fes and Marrakech, rural spaces in Mauritania, and into various historical archives that reveal connections between blindness, processes of memory and knowledge, disability activism, and the politics of representation in modernity.
Alongside his PhD work at Michigan, Saquib serves as the coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar (IISS) at University of Michigan’s International Institute, where he works to bring together scholars, artists and activists by organizing talks, workshops, symposiums, and other forums throughout the academic year.
Areas of interest