B.A., Wesleyan University; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University
Pendleton Hall East Rm. 248
Ralph Emerson and Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of Political Science
Comparative political theorist, specializes in interactions between Islamic and Euro-American political thought.
On leave 2016-17.
My scholarship is in a relatively new and vibrant area of inquiry sometimes called “comparative political theory.” This is an understanding of political theory not as coextensive with Euro-American canonical texts ‘from Plato to NATO,’ but as inclusive of intellectual traditions of the “non-West” and global South, as well as of indigenous traditions in but not of what’s commonly understood as “the West.” My specific areas of research are Islamic and Euro-American political thought, and my work has addressed such topics as Muslim cosmopolitanism; jihad, martyrdom and political action; travel, translation and comparative knowledge; commonalities between Muslim and European perspectives on science and reason; Islamic critiques of modernity; and the political thought of Muslim thinkers ranging from Ibn Khaldun to Rifa‘a Rafi‘ al-Tahtawi to Sayyid Qutb. My publications include Enemy in the Mirror: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism (Princeton, 1999; Oxford, 2001), Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge (Princeton, 2006), and Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from Al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton, 2009), written and edited in collaboration with Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religion at Princeton University. My research has been supported by fellowships from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
I teach political theory, one of the four subfields that comprise the political science curriculum at Wellesley College. My teaching interests include Euro-American political theory past and present, feminist theory, Muslim political thought past and present, and the study of Islam. I teach a range of thematically and historically organized courses such as Ethics and Politics, Power and Politics, Feminist Theory, Political Action and Dissent, Comparative Political Theory, Islamist Political Thought and Classical Political Thought. I was honored to have been awarded Wellesley College's Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2003. Prior to joining the Wellesley faculty I was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of South Carolina.
I am an active member of the American Political Science Association (APSA), the main professional organization for North American political scientists. I am currently a member of the APSA Governing Council, and just finished a term on the APSA Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights, and Freedoms. I currently serve on the the Executive Editorial Committee of Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy, the editorial board of The American Political Science Review, the flagship journal of the APSA, and the editorial board of Polity, the journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association.