Marwa Elshakry is an assistant professor at Harvard University, where she teaches science in cross-cultural contexts, with a special focus on science, religion, and empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research interests involve the relationships among Islam, science, and modern imperialism in the Middle East in particular.
Elshakry is at work on “Darwinian Conversions: Science and Religion in the Arab Eastern Mediterranean, 1850–1950.” In it, she questions current ideas about Islam, science, and secularism by exploring ways in which Muslim thinkers in Egypt and the Levant approached Western science after Darwin. Widely translated and discussed in the emerging Arab press at the time, Darwin’s writings served as a catalyst for debates on religion, social and cultural advancement, and political struggle. In this way, Darwinism helped to alter the social and epistemological landscape of the Arab learned classes and, ultimately, to reshape ideas about the relationship of religion to the state and society. El Shakry is also the author of The Gospel of Science and American Evangelism in Late Ottoman Beirut (forthcoming from Past and Present).
Elshakry received her doctoral degree from Princeton University in 2003, having conducted research under the auspices of the American Research Center in Egypt and the Social Science Research Council, and has since been the recipient of the Sultan’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley (2003), a British Academy Fellowship (2004), and a Carnegie Scholars Award (2006).