hero image
Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. Charles Kurzman, Ph.D.

Philip Stadter Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, and consortium director of the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, College of Arts and Sciences | UNC-Chapel Hill


Charles Kurzman is a Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill specializing in Middle East and Islamic studies.




Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. Publication Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. Publication Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. Publication Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. Publication Charles Kurzman, Ph.D. Publication



loading image





Charles Kurzman is a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. He is author of "The Missing Martyrs" (2011; updated edition scheduled for release in Fall 2018), "Democracy Denied, 1905-1915" (2008), and "The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran" (2004), and editor of the anthologies "Liberal Islam" (1998) and "Modernist Islam, 1840-1940" (2002).

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (8)

Sociology of Religion

Islam and the Middle East

Middle East Studies

Democracy Building


Peace and Conflict

International Education

Social Theory

Accomplishments (8)

Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, U.S. Department of Education Title VI Grant 2018-2022 (professional)

Principal investigator. 2018-08-15

Arab Public Data Initiative (professional)

Awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Principal investigator. 2017-10-01

Middle East Library Partnership Project

Awarded by the Mellon Foundation Principal investigator. 2014-07-01

Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, U.S. Department of Education Title VI Grant 2014-2018 (professional)


Principal investigator.

UNC-Carnegie Fellowships in Support of Arab Region Social Science (professional)


Awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, U.S. Department of Education Title VI Grant 2010-2014 (professional)


Principal investigator.

Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship (professional)


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Favorite Faculty Award (professional)


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Education (3)

University of California at Berkeley: Ph.D., Sociology 1992

University of California at Berkeley: M.A,, Sociology 1987

Harvard University: B.A., Social Studies 1986

Affiliations (2)

  • American Institute of Iranian Studies : Trustee
  • Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations : Co-director

Media Appearances (9)

Recent media appearances

For Charles Kurzman  

“These Numbers Show Why Trump’s Muslim Entry Limit Is Absurd,” Huffington Post, January 26, 2017. “Trump’s Muslim Laptop Ban,” Politico, April 4, 2017. “Counting Terrorists: The Urgent Need for Comprehensive Data,” Lawfare, January 23, 2018. "Despite Attention, Sociology Professor Says Violent Extremism Is Relatively Rare," All Things Considered, National Public Radio, June 4, 2017. Quoted in last two years by National Public Radio, January 27, 2017; The New York Times, January 28, 2017; The Washington Post, January 28, 2017; The Washington Post, February 7, 2017; The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2017; Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, February 12, 2017; Newsweek, January 4, 2018; USA Today, January 4, 2018; Religion News Service, January 18, 2018; Voice of America (VOA) News, January 18, 2018; Rewire, February 15, 2018; Newsweek, April 10, 2018; New York Times, May 31, 2018.

What 74 Years of Crossword History Says About the Language We Use

The New York Times  online


The world may have become more globalized, but the venerable puzzle now relies less on international words and place names.

view more

Q&A with sociology professor Charles Kurzman on American-Iranian prisoner swap

The Daily Tar Heel  


The Daily Tar Heel's staff writer Sam Killenberg spoke with Kurzman about the prisoner swap, the Iran nuclear deal and the implications of both for future Iran-U.S. relations ...

view more

Reform Needed in US Programs to Stop Extremism

Duke Today  online


“Community members are natural allies for law enforcement, if they are approached in a consistent, nondiscriminatory way,” said co-author Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ...

view more

America Is Holding Itself Hostage to Terrorism

The Huffington Post  online


So far this year, Americans have been more likely to be killed for being Muslim -- than by a Muslim. One in one million Muslim Americans died because of hatred for their faith, compared with one in 17 million other Americans who died at the hands of Muslim militants. Fortunately, both types of violence are incredibly rare.

view more

Ideological Violence Is Terrorism

The New York Times  online


Violence like the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., raises an existential question: What are we most afraid of? Ideological killings, which occur relatively rarely, or “ordinary” violence — including school shootings, gang murders, domestic abuse and other forms of homicide — which is much more common?

view more

Why We Care About Some Gunmen, and Not Others

ISLAMiCommentary  online


Not every gunshot echoes alike. Some echoes fade quickly, and are only heard in a single neighborhood. Others resonate nationwide, making headlines for days or weeks. Why do we pay attention to certain acts of violence more than others?

view more

Terrorist or extremist, was Abdulazeez a man with a plan?

Chattanooga Times Free Press  online


Still, the traditional idea of terrorism is evolving, said Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ...

view more

The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat

The New York Times  online


If you keep up with the news, you know that a small but steady stream of American Muslims, radicalized by overseas extremists, are engaging in violence here in the United States. But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists.

view more

Articles (5)

After the Arab Spring: Do Muslims Vote Islamic Now?

Journal of Democracy

2015 “Do Muslims Vote Islamic?” asked an article by Charles Kurzman and Ijlal Naqvi in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Democracy. The answer, at that time, appeared to be rarely. This essay presents updated data on Islamic political parties’ performance in parliamentary elections through the end of 2014, along with an expanded set of electoral platforms.

view more

Muslim Modernities: Interdisciplinary Insights Across Time and Space

The Muslim World

2015 Introduction to special issue on “Muslim Modernities.”

view more


Sociology Compass

2014 This paper reviews multiple theoretical approaches to the concept of powerblindness and categorizes these literatures into five forms through which powerblindness operates: powerblind identity (failure to notice that one belongs to a privileged group), powerblind egalitarianism (belief that all groups are equal in power), powerblind hierarchy (emphasis on one's own subordinate position), powerblind exception (the claim that one is less privileged than others in one's group), and powerblind justification (belief that present-day hierarchy is merited or inevitable).

view more

When Forecasts Fail: Unpredictability in Israeli-Palestinian Interaction

Sociological Science

2014 This article explores the paradox that forecasts may be most likely to fail during dramatic moments of historic change that social scientists are most eager to predict. It distinguishes among four types of shocks that can undermine the predictive power of time series analyses: effect shocks that change the size of the causal effect; input shocks that change the causal variables; duration shocks that change how long a causal effect lasts; and actor shocks that change the number of agents in the system.

view more

The Arab Spring Uncoiled


2012 Since the "Arab Spring" emerged in the winter of 2011, however, observers have rushed to explain mass revolts in the region. This introduction to the special issue reviews some of the explanations offered for these extraordinary events, and finds that the factors that are frequently cited in these explanations do not map comfortably onto the sites of greatest protest in the region.