Earlham College | A national liberal arts college in the Midwest
COVID-19 news, plans and updates | READ MORE
Skip to Content
Ahmed Khanani
Plowshares Assistant Professor of Politics; Co-Director of the Center of Social Justice

Ahmed's primary scholarly interests are human rights and democracy in the Muslim Middle East and North Africa. More broadly, his research asks: how do everyday people positioned at the global margins understand and embody key concepts in international politics? He studies how peripheral actors (including Islamists in Morocco and LGBTQ communities and peoples in Western democracies) mobilize, inhabit and recode the language and practices of democracy, human rights and sovereignty.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 25



230 Landrum Bolling Center

Office Hours
Mondays and Thursdays 4-5, Tuesdays 11-4


  • Politics
  • International Studies
  • African and African American Studies
  • Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies
  • Center for Social Justice


  • Ph.D., Indiana University
  • M.S., Florida State University
  • B.A., University of Colorado

Selected Courses:

  • Critical Studies (in Nationalism) of the Muslim Middle East and North Africa
  • Democracy and Democratization
  • Gender & Sexuality in the Muslim MENA
  • History of the Modern Middle East
  • Human Rights in the Muslim World
  • Introduction to Social Science Methods

A theme in my past, present and future research is that people at the margins of the liberal world both challenge and also modify the ordinary meanings of these words. I contend that mapping how democracy, human rights, and sovereignty are understood and enacted not only helps explain political practices around the world, but also enriches Western scholarly conversations. As such, my work brings traditional political science subjects into conversation with postcolonial theories and peoples.

I am currently working on three projects: first, I am completing an article-length manuscript that explores how my interlocutors in Morocco articulate human rights. Second, I am finding a home for two essays that explore different dimensions of democracy in the language of Moroccan Islamists. Finally, I am revising my dissertation (which explores the meanings of democracy in the ordinary language of Moroccan Islamists) into a book manuscript.

Ahmed Khanani. “What I Talk About When I Talk About Islamists.” Islamist Politics in the Shadow of the Islamic State, Project on Middle East Politics Publications, 2015.

Ahmed Khanani. “Contemporary Islamism and the Sacralization of Democracy.” Political Theology Today (Journal of Political Theology), 2013.

Ahmed Khanani and Jean C. Robinson. “Democracy, Discursive Frames, and Same-Sex Unions: A Cross-National Analysis.” In Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas, ed. Jason A. Pierceson, pp. 15-36. Lexington Books: Lanham, MD, 2010.

Abdulkader Sinno and Ahmed Khanani. “Of opportunities and organization: When do Islamist parties choose to compete electorally?” In Interpreting Islamic Political Parties, ed. Mohamed Salih, pp. 29-51. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, NY, 2009.

Paul R. Hensel, Michael Allison, and Ahmed Khanani. “Territorial Integrity Treaties and Armed Conflict over Territory.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 26 (2): 120-143, 2009.

  • American Political Science Association
  • Middle East Studies Association

The people, relationships, and institutional culture that animate Earlham are, for me, the major draws. First and foremost, I simply love working with Earlham’s students. I know that my students will work hard, bring their broad training in the liberal arts to bear on our conversations, are conscientious in class discussions, and are willing to engage in difficult conversations — this means that our time together in classrooms is always invigorating, thoughtful, and pushes towards deeper, more complex understandings of complicated issues. Additionally, I’m thankful to be part of an intentional community of scholars: Earlham’s faculty are exceptional people, tremendous teachers, and thoughtful colleagues. I find that not only my scholarly development benefits from the interactions I have with my colleagues, but that I’m growing as a person through knowing such good people.

Finally, I’m thankful to teach at an excellent liberal arts college that isn’t just a cookie-cutter “good school.” In other words, although a lot of liberal arts colleges help students reach their potential as we do here at Earlham, we’re one of the few places that has a set of principles and practices (and, more broadly, mission statement) that place a premium on values I also hold to, including fostering diversity, integrity, community, and peace and justice.

From my vantage, Earlham’s students are a quirky an incredibly diverse group who are bound together by a shared commitment to collaborative education in the hopes of making the world a better place, one step at a time.

The diversity of Earlham’s students is, from my perspective, amazing. Earlham’s students come from across the US, and, indeed, from around the world. At least as importantly, though, is that Earlham’s students not only embody distinct identity-markers, they also bring a wealth of personal experiences and insights to their everyday encounters. As such, both academic spaces and also extra-curricular activities (e.g. sporting events, plays, musical performances, religious services, and so on) are sites that bring together very different people in pursuit of similar goals: this means that we all invite and welcome the best in ourselves and one another.

Perhaps my favorite thing to do is a three step weekend morning activity: (1) get a good cup of coffee (or two or three), a big bowl of Greek yogurt and yummy granola (2) find a comfy spot on the couch, have my dog (Moocihe, a beagle/pitt mix who is a big weirdo and also one of the loves of my life) snuggle me on the couch and then (3) watch the Denver Nuggets win a basketball game…!

I also love: spending time in Morocco (where I’ve done extensive fieldwork), reading well-written long-form essays, a good workout, looking through fashion blogs, South Asian food (Richmond now has a very good Indian restaurant! Hooray!), catching up with friends, and a productive writing day.

I love watching, playing, and talking basketball, staying up with hip-hop, traveling (both domestically and internationally), messing with friends and loved ones, trying new coffee (beans and preparation), and, if I’m going full-disclosure: binge-watching (usually good stuff; often comedies) on my Apple TV!

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.