Ahmed Khanani, Ph.D.

Plowshares associate professor of politics; Director of the Center for Social Justice

Email:[email protected]

Department: African and African American Studies
International Studies
Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Program: Center for Social Justice

Location: Landrum Bolling Center Room 230
801 National Road
Richmond, Indiana 47374

About me

My primary scholarly interests are human rights and democracy in the Muslim Middle East and North Africa. More broadly, my research asks: how do everyday people positioned at the global margins understand and embody key concepts in international politics? I study 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.

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.

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 has a very good Indian restaurant. Hooray!), catching up with friends, and a productive writing day.

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 toward 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 have 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.


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

Professional memberships

Research projects

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.

Scholarly interest

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.

Published works

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.

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.