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Caleb Elfenbein

Elfenbein Caleb
Director, Center for the Humanities
Associate Professor


Caleb Elfenbein is an Associate Professor in both History and Religious Studies at Grinnell College. He graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in political science, making his way to Harvard Divinity School for a Masters in Theological Studies, then to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for a Ph.D. in religious studies.  His research explores a range of issues, including the effects of modern imperial history in Muslim communities (especially but not limited to the Middle East), the emergence of Islamist thought, comparative intellectual history, the making of modern forms of religion, the place of religion in modern public life, and Islam in America. His work appears in, among other venues, the Journal of the American Academy of ReligionMethod and Theory in the Study of Religion, and The Muslim World. His current project, a digital humanities initiative, is Mapping Islamophobia (mappingislamophobia.org). He is currently the Director of the Grinnell College Center for the Humanities.


Campus Phone: 

(641) 269-4352


(641) 269-4414


faculty info column 1

On-Campus Address: 

210 Macy House
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

Education / Degrees: 

PhD, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara (2009); MTS, Harvard Divinity School (2001); BA, Political Science, Vassar College (1998)

Courses Taught: 

Advanced Topics in Religious Studies; Being Muslim in America; History of the Modern Middle East; Islam in the Modern Era; Islam and Gender; Studying Religion: the Middle East; Traditions of Islam; Sacred and Secular History in the Modern Middle East; Special Topic: Politics of Human Thriving; Special Topic: Religion, Self & Society

Primary Academic Interest: 

Islam; Islam and modernity; colonial history in the modern Middle East; comparative intellectual and colonial history; theories of public life

Curriculum Vitae/Resume: 


Unit Head: 

Center for Prairie Studies