Zvi Ben-Dor Benite

Professor of History, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies; Chair; Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Office Address: 

King Juan Carlos Center, Room 517



Field of Study: 

East Asia

Research Interests: 

Global History, Early Modern and Modern Chinese History, Asian and European Islam, Religion and World History, Middle Eastern History, History of Geography, Arab-Jewish and Mizrahi History


Zvi Ben-Dor Benite is Professor in the Department of History and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He teaches courses on Asian history during and after the Mongol period and on Judaism and Islam. Zvi Ben-Dor Benite was born in Jerusalem to a family that emigrated from Iraq. Growing up not only in a bilingual setting – speaking Arabic and Hebrew – but also in a binational city defined his relationship both to words and to languages. He studied Chinese in Jerusalem, in China, and later at UCLA where he completed his Ph.D. in early modern Chinese history. Ben-Dor Benite has received several awards and honors and is a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Berggruen Institute. Ben-Dor Benite’s research centers on the interaction between religions in world history and cultural exchanges across vast space and deep time. He is the author of The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late Imperial China (Harvard, 2005); The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History (Oxford, 2009); and co-editor of Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Culture, and Politics (Brandeis, 2013); and an edited volume on Sovereignty (forthcoming with Columbia University Press). He is currently working on a number of projects related to Jews, Jesuits, Chinese, and Muslims. Ben-Dor Benite enjoys writing short fiction in Hebrew and pieces for the wider public on Confucian philosophy and on the Bible’s prophets and scribes.

Selected Works:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture 1893-1958.  Edited by Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite.  Brandeis, 2013.

The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History, Oxford University Press, 2009.



The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late Imperial China.  Harvard University Asia Center, 2005.



“‘Western Gods Meet in the East’: Shapes and Contexts of the Muslim-Jesuit Dialogue in Early Modern China”(Cultural Dialogue in South Asia and Beyond: Narratives, Images and Community (16th-19th centuries), editors: Corinne Lefèvre and Ines G. Županov, 2011).

“Ricci et les « musulmans de Canton » : à propos du premier dialogue des jésuites avec l’Europe,” (Colloque Ricci 2010 Unesco Les éditions du Cerf, 2011).

“Modernity: The Sphinx and the Historian,” in AHR Forum: “Modernity and the Historian,” The American Historical Review Vol. 116, No. 3 (June 2011), pp. 638-652.

“Religions and World History,” Oxford Handbook of World History, Ed. Jerry Bentley (Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 210-228 

“Follow the White Camel: Islam in China to 1800,” New Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. 3 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 409-426. 

“‘Nine Years in Egypt’: The Chinese at al-Azhar University,” Hagar, “‘Nine Years in Egypt’: The Chinese at al-Azhar University,” HAGAR, Studies in Culture, Polity and Identities Vol.8 (1) 2008: 105-128.

“The Marrano Emperor: The Mysterious Bond between Zhu Yuanzhang and the Chinese Muslims,” in Sarah Schneewind, Long Live the Emperor!: Uses of the Ming Founder Across Six Centuries of East Asian History. Ming studies research series, no. 4. 2008. pp. 275-308.

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Updated on 09/23/2016