Ali Ahmida

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, Ph.D.



Decary Hall 326

Professor Ali Abdullatif Ahmida was born in Waddan, Libya and educated at Cairo University in Egypt and the University of Washington, Seattle.  He is the founding Chair (2000 – 2014) of the Department of Political Science at the University of New England, Biddeford, Maine, USA.  His areas of expertise are political theory, comparative politics, and historical sociology.  His scholarship is cross-cultural and focuses on power, agency, genocide, and anti-colonial resistance in North Africa, especially in modern Libya.

Dr. Ahmida has published major articles in Italian Studies, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Arab Future, Third World Quarterly, and the Arab Journal of International Studies.  He is also the author of The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonialization and Resistance, a book published by SUNY Press, 1994, 2009.  This book was translated into Arabic and has been published in a second edition by the Center of Arab Unity Studies, 1998, Beirut, Lebanon.  A third edition was published in 2013.  He is the editor of Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture and Politics, published by Palgrave Press in 2000.  An Arabic translation of the book was published by The Centre of Arab Unity Studies in 2014.

Routledge Press published Dr. Ahmida’s book, Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya, 2005; an Arabic edition was published in 2009, and an Italian edition will be published in 2013.  Cambridge Scholars Press published his edited book, Bridges Across the Sahara, September 2009, and The Center of Arab Unity Studies, Beirut, Lebanon published his book Post-Orientalism: Critical Reviews of North African Social and Cultural History in August 2009.  His book The Libya We Do Not Know (in Arabic) was published by The Libyan Ministry of Culture in 2014.  Dr. Ahmida's most recent book  is Genocide in Libya, published by Routledge, 2021. This book was awarded the 2022 L. Carl Brown Book Prize from the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). He is currently working on two books, one about after the genocide in colonial Libya, and a biography of Libyan freedom fighter Omar al-Mukhtar.




University of Washington
University of Washington

Post-Doctoral Training

Certificate, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Management Development Program, 2012
Harvard University (Boston, Massachusetts)


Current research

Dr. Ahmida is currently working on a new book on genocide that links the Middle East with Europe. This book examines the genocidal machinery of the Italian colonial state, internment of 100,000 people in Libya and the silence that followed. The policies of Italy’s Fascist government were unprecedented in the history of African colonialism but it was not until recently that Western scholarship acknowledged forceful deportation of the rural population of Cyrenaica and their confinement in concentration camps between 1929 and 1934.   Dr. Ahmida has spent 10 years researching and interviewing some of the survivors in Eastern Libya.  The book will be published by Stanford University Press. 

Selected publications

The Libya We Don’t Know: History , Culture and Civil Society 1835-2012. Cairo, Egypt: Dar al Hilal, 2014. (Arabic)

The Making of Modern Libya:  State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance 1830-1932. Beirut, Lebanon.: The Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1995. A revised and updated 3rd edition, 2013. (Arabic)

  Post-Orientalism: Critical Reviews. Beirut, Lebanon.: Center of Arab Unity Studies, 2009.  (Arabic)

Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya. New York.: Routledge,  2005.  An Arabic translation was published by The Center for Arabic Studies, 2009.

Editor. Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in North Africa: History, Culture and Politics. New York.: Palgrave Press, 2000.  An Arabic translation was published by Center of Arab Unity Studies and Libyan Ministry of Culture, 2014. 

The Making of Modern Libya:  State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance 1830-1932. Beirut, Lebanon: The Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1995. A second edition, 1998.       

The Making of Modern Libya:  State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance 1830-1932. State University of New York Press, 1994. A second revised and updated edition, 2009. 

Editor. Bridges Across the Sahara: Social, Economic and Cultural Impact of the Trans Sahara Trade During the 19th and 20th Centuries. London.: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009.


Other scholarly activity

Scholarly Articles in refereed Journals

“The Post Colonial State and Social Transformation in Libya”. Tabayyan. 2012

“The Post Colonial State and Social Transformation in Libya”. The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies Online. 2012

“Libya, Social Origin of Dictatorship and the Challenge for Democracy”. Journal of the  Middle East and Africa. 2012

“The Libyan National Transnational Council: Social Bases, Membership and Political Trends”. Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. 2011

“Beyond Orientalist, Colonial and Nationalist Models: a critical mapping of Maghribi studies (1951–2000)”. Third World Quarterly. 30:6 (July 23, 2009)

“When the Subaltern Speak: Memory of Genocide in Colonial Libya, 1929 to1933” Italian Studies, 61:2 (Autumn, 2006)

Guest Editor, “Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in North Africa,” Arab Studies Quarterly, (Spring, 1998)

“Inventing or Recovering Civil society in the Middle East,” Critique, (Spring, 1997)

"Colonialism, State Formation and Civil Society in North Africa: Theoretical and Analytical Problems,” International Journal of Islamic and Arabic Studies,  XI:I (1994). A French translation of this article will be published in 2003.

Invited plenary presentation

Public Lectures

“The Libyan Situation Now”. The World Affairs Council of Maine. November 6 2012.

“Theories of Social Revolutions in the 20th Century and the Arab Spring”. University of Akron. March 20 2012.

“Libya from Dictatorship to Revolution: A Historical and Comparative View”. 14th Annual Sally A. Miller Humanities Lecture. University of Akron. March 20 2012.

“The Struggle over National Symbols in the Libyan Revolution” Revolution in MENA,  Oberlin College. March 17 2012.

Obstacles and Challenges Facing Libyan Society After the February 17 Revolution. Ministry of Culture, Tripoli. December 31 2011

How to Think About National Reconciliation in Libya. University of Tripoli, December 24-26, 2011

“Libya: From Dictatorship to Revolution”. New York University, October 28 2011

“Popular Protests, Governance and Political Transitions in the Maghreb: Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia”. Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies. October 20-21 2011

Assessing Libya. Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies. September 1 2011

“After Qaddafi: The Challenges of Building a Civil Democratic System”. United Nations Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Peace Keeping Missions, New York, June 9 2011.

“The Ghosts of Libya’s Colonial Past & Why Qaddafi’s Regime Failed?” Brecht Forum, New York, June 8 2011

“Al-Koni’s Saharan Imagination: Engaging Modernity, History, and the Nation-State” Georgetown University, April 28 2011

“Why Qaddafi Already Lost and the Ghosts of Libya’s Colonial Past”. Georgetown University, April 27 2011

“The Politics of Identity and Alienation in North Africa” Arab Festival, Arab-American Cultural Center of Washington, Seattle, WA, October 19, 2003.

“Researching State-Society Relations in Libya During the 1940's: Sources and Problems” Center for Libyan Studies, Tripoli, Libya, June, 2002.

“Libya: A Terrorist or Revolutionary State?”  UNE Faculty Colloquium, Biddeford, ME,  April,  2001.  

“The Sahara as a Contexted Space,” African Studies Distinguished Lecture Series, 1999 - 2000, Africa at the End of the Millennium, Center for International Studies, Washington University and University of Missouri - St. Louis, October 2000.

“Theories and Models of Citizenship”, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine, May 1999.

“Colonialism and its impact on Racism Today” University of New England, Biddeford, Maine,   February, 1999.

“Colonialism and State Formation in North Africa in Comparative Perspective,” University of Tunis, Summer, 1997.

“Teaching Exploration Courses at University of New England,” Faculty Development, UNE, Biddeford, ME, Spring, 1997.

“Teaching Roots of Contemporary Cultures at University of New England,” Faculty Develop­ment, UNE, Biddeford, ME, Spring 1996.

“The Crisis of Governance in North Africa,” Presenta­tion, 28th annual meeting of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Washington, DC, 1995.

“The Politics of Islamic Fundamentalism,” Faculty Forum, Whitman College, Walla Walla,      Washing­ton, December 5, 1993.

“American Libyan Relations,” Voice of America Radio, Washington, D.C. February 5, 1993.

“An Islamic State?  Reflections on the Crisis of the Nationalist State in Algeria,” Faculty Forum, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, June 20, 1992.

“Culture, Resistance, and the Recovery of History,” Faculty Cultural Legacy group, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, June 4, 1991.

“The Aftermath of the Gulf War:  What is Next?” Canton Presbyterian Church, Canton, NY, April 5, 1991.

“Chances for Peace in the Aftermath of the Gulf War,” North County Public Radio, Canton, NY, March 20, 1991.

“The Making of the Gulf Crisis,” Brown University, Providence, RI, March 4, 1991.

“Alternative State Formation:  The Case of the Sanusiyya [North Africa],” Southwest Asia/North Africa Program, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY, January 31, 1991.

“The Origins of the Gulf Crisis,” North Country Public Radio, Canton, NY, January 30, 1991.


2008                 United Nations: Commissioned to assess UN role in Arab countries

 2005                 United Nations Security Council: Conflict resolution in Africa

Research interests

Dr. Ali Ahmida's  research interest has been centered on the historical roots of civil society and how ordinary citizens react to state pressure.  He addressed this theoretical issue in his PhD dissertation and his first book on the Making of Modern Libya.  He spent 20 years engaged in original research collecting the data in the U.S, Libya, Egypt and Italy, using the national archives, and pursing an innovative methodology of collecting oral history which is becoming a recognized source of research in scholarship today.  He examines the dynamics of power, agency and anti-colonial resistance in North Africa, especially modern Libya and the Sahara.