Ahmed Elbenni

2nd-year Ph.D. student
Jones Hall

Ahmed Elbenni is a Ph.D. student in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His research sits at the intersection of Islamic, literary, and postsecular studies, while also drawing on the conceptual and methodological resources of media anthropology and aesthetic theory. Ahmed is especially interested in the theorization, creation, and circulation of self-consciously "Islamic" (and "Islamist") fiction in the modern period across Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, and beyond. From these novels, short stories, and plays emerge overlooked social, cultural, and intellectual histories of the modern Near East that implicate everything from subject formation to Qur'anic hermeneutics to religious authority. Yet this literature isn't reducible to history. Its aesthetic ambitions challenge, and thus open a space to rethink, the interlocking categories of the "literary," the "secular," and the "real."

Other interests adjacent to his academic research include Western and Arabic science fiction; chronopolitics and temporal metaphysics; film theory; Islamic and contemporary architecture; the history of history; cyberculture and digital spirituality; and, of course, ping pong. 

Ahmed works in English, Arabic, and French, and soon Turkish and Urdu. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in History and Political Science. His two undergraduate theses examined how twentieth-century Muslim thinkers, 'ulema and reformers alike, attempted to develop epistemological frameworks at once modern, non-Western, and indigenous to the Islamic intellectual tradition. Before coming to Princeton, he worked as a managing editor and features reporter at newspapers in New Jersey and Ohio, with a focus on religion, culture, and media.