MAOW - Biographies

Header for 4th Annual Mid-Atlantic Ottomanist Workshop







Nabil Al-Tikriti

Professor of Middle East History | University of Mary Washington

Nabil Al-Tikriti is Professor of Middle East History at the University of Mary Washington. Dr. Al-Tikriti earned a bachelor’s degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a doctorate in Ottoman History from the University of Chicago in 2004. He has also studied at Boğaziçi Üniversitesi in Istanbul, the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad in Cairo, and the American University in Cairo. He is the recipient of several grants and scholarships, including three Fulbrights, a U.S. Institute of Peace Fellowship, and a NEH/American Research Institute in Turkey grant. 

Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer

Assistant Professor of History | New York University

Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer is an assistant professor of History at New York University. Her publications examine empire formation in the Middle East and its enmeshment with sectarian, geo-political, and fiscal issues, particularly in inter-confessional and inter-imperial contact zones of Anatolia, Kurdistan, and western Iran in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. She has been awarded fellowships by a number of institutions including the Institute for Advanced Study, NYU’s Center for Humanities, and Bradley Foundation. She is currently revising her monograph, tentatively titled Politics of Sectarianism in the Middle East: Ottoman State and Its Qizilbash Problem.

Katherine Benton-Cohen

Professor of History | Georgetown University

Katherine Benton-Cohen P’94 is professor and director of doctoral studies in the department of history at Georgetown University. She is the author of Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission and Its Legacy (Harvard, 2018) and Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard, 2009), and was historical advisor to Bisbee ’17, winner of the American Historical Association’s O’Connor 2019 prize for best documentary film. Benton-Cohen has held fellowships from Princeton Library, the New York Public Library, American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and elsewhere, and has been a visiting scholar at Chuo University in Tokyo. She has appeared in a variety of media outlets including “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” the BBC, NPR, and PBS American Experience. She is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer, on the Board of Modern American History, and on the Scholarly Advisory Council for the Wisconsin Historical Society. Benton-Cohen is now embarked on a global history of the Phelps-Dodge copper-mining family, whose capitalist and philanthropic links between New York, the US-Mexico Borderlands, and the Middle East profoundly changed each region. 

Yeliz Cavus

Visiting Lecturer | University of Cincinnati

Yeliz Cavus is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Cincinnati. She completed her Ph. D. in the Department of History at Ohio State University. Her dissertation research focused on history writing practices and historical institutions in the Late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic. She received a B.A. in Turkish Language and Literature, a B.A. in History, and an M.A. in History from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul.

Her research interests include late Ottoman and early republican Turkish History, Ottoman historiography, history of Ottoman modernization, history of mass performances in the Ottoman realm, Ottoman literature, nationalism(s) in the Middle East, and history and folklore of resistance.

Metin Coşgel

Professor of Economics | University of Connecticut

Metin Coşgel is professor of economics at the University of Connecticut. His current research interests include the economic history of the Ottoman Empire, historical roots of comparative development in Islamic societies, and political economy consequences of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity around the world. He is the author of The Economics of Ottoman Justice: Settlement and Trial in the Sharia Courts (with Boğac Ergene,  Cambridge University Press, 2016). He has published widely in economics, history, and interdisciplinary journals.

Cevat Dargin

Visiting Fellow | University of Michigan

Cevat Dargin is a historian of the modern Middle East from the late eighteenth century onward, with a particular focus on the Age of High Imperialism, from the Scramble for Africa in the 1880s to the aftermath of World War I and into the interwar period. His peer-review journal article titled “Anticipatory Historical Geographies of Violence: Imagining, Mapping and Integrating Dersim into the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish State, 1866–1939,” was recently published in the Journal of Historical Geography. He also published two chapters in edited volumes and public-facing essays on platforms such as Jadalliya and PolitikART. Dr. Dargin is currently working on an article titled “Race, Rhetoric, and Rebellion: Afterlives of Ottoman Collapse in the Making of Dersim '38,” pending submission to Ethnic and Racial Studies. His book manuscript Roads to Dersim '38: Race, Territory, and Technology in Reinventing the Middle East is under review with Harvard University Press. Dr. Dargin earned his PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 2021. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he taught a course titled "Nations and Nationalism." He will join Columbia University's department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies as a Visiting Assistant Professor starting in January 2024, where he will teach a course titled "Armenians and the Modern World."

Arif Erbil

Doctoral Candidate | Brown University

Arif Erbil received his BA in Political Science and History and an MA in History from Boğaziçi University,  in Istanbul. Additionally, he holds an AM in Religious Studies from Duke University. His research focuses on the interaction between Mamluk intellectual heritage and the sixteenth-century Ottoman world, with a special emphasis on juristic language in political thought through translations. Arif remains intrigued by the intersection of political and legal thought in the early modern Ottoman Empire, adopting a spatially and temporally comparative and theoretically diverse approach. He aims to question the place of governmental authority, its limits, intellectual backdrop, and the enduring distinctions between premodern and modern eras.

Molly Greene

Professor of History and Hellenic Studies | Princeton University

Molly Greene is a professor in the Department of History at Princeton University, with a joint appointment in the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies. The Greek world during the Ottoman period is the focus of her research.  She is currently writing a history of the Pindus mountains, 1350 to 1821.

Zoe Griffith

Assistant Professor of History | Baruch College, CUNY

Zoe Griffith is Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College, CUNY. After receiving her Ph.D. from Brown University in 2017, she taught for a year at UC Berkeley before joining Baruch in 2018. Her first book manuscript, tentatively entitled The Egypt Merchants: Imperial Governance and Economic Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean, 1670-1830 explores what it meant to be a Muslim merchant in the Ottoman Empire amidst large-scale reforms of the long-eighteenth century. This project draws on extensive research in the Ottoman Archives and the Egyptian National Archives, as well as French consular and commercial archives; in particular, it is animated by the Islamic court records (sijills) of Egypt’s Mediterranean port cities of Rosetta, Damietta and Alexandria from the 17th century until the 1830s.

More broadly, Griffith’s research and teaching are motivated by her interests in social history, political economy, capitalism and state-building, gender and sexuality, material culture, and microhistory. Her research and writing have benefitted from the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright-Hays, among other organizations.

Mehmet Emin Gulecyuz

Doctoral Candidate in Islamic Studies | University of Chicago

Mehmet Emin Gulecyuz is PhD Candidate in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. He holds BA and MA degrees from Istanbul 29 Mayis University and Freie Universität Berlin. His main area of research is the late medieval and early modern Islamic theology and philosophy; and his dissertation focuses on the intellectual life and metaphysics of Mollā Fenārī (d. 1431). He is also involved in several other academic projects, such as the edition of Fenārī’s partial Quran commentary, the edition of Idrīs-i Bidlīsī’s (d. 1520) plague treatise and its Ottoman translation, and the study of the premodern Muslim engagements with Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed.

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel

Associate Professor | Rutgers University

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel is a media anthropologist and Associate Professor in the department of Anthropology at Rutgers University.  She is the author of Image Brokers: Visualizing World News in the Age of Digital Circulation (University of California Press, 2016), an ethnography of the international photojournalism industry in the 21st c. She is also the director of Coffee Futures (2009), an award-winning ethnographic film that explores contemporary Turkish politics through the prism of the everyday practice of coffee fortune telling.  More recently she has been researching photography as a tool of governmentality in the late nineteenth century. Her research on photography during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid (1876-1909) from medical imagery to prison portraiture investigates emerging forms of the state and the changing contours of Ottoman subjecthood.  She is completing a book about Ottoman Armenian expatriation (terk-i tabiiyet).  Her current projects investigate photography as an integral part of the global surveillance regime policing mobility and nationality.  This year she is a fellow in the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Melis Hafez

Associate Professor | Virginia Commonwealth University

Melis Hafez has received her doctorate degree from the Department of History at UCLA and currently is an Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her book, Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society, was published by the Cambridge University Press in 2021.

Youssef Ben Ismail

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia Society of Fellows | Columbia University

Youssef Ben Ismail is a historian of the Ottoman Mediterranean and the Modern Middle East. His research is broadly situated in the political and intellectual history of law and empire, with specific interests in the history of international law, European imperialism, and Middle Eastern political thought. He is particularly interested in the study of the legal cultures, imperial practices, and political ideas inherent to a distinctive Ottoman-Arab legal and political tradition from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. His work explores the transformations of this tradition through its encounter with European imperialism and the rise of international law. He is currently writing a book on “The Tunisian Question”: the French-Ottoman imperial rivalry over the sovereign status of Tunis following the conquest of Algiers in 1830. The book takes the imperial rivalry over Tunis as a case study, exploring how Ottoman and European conceptions of state sovereignty circulated, competed, and influenced one another across imperial legal traditions. Research for this project has received support from the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations at Koç University (Istanbul) as well as from various centers at Harvard University including the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for African Studies.

Sefer Korkmaz

Doctoral Candidate | Istanbul University

Sefer Korkmaz has a B.A. degree in Islamic Theology from Istanbul University. In 2019, he graduated from the Department of Islamic Law at Istanbul University after completing his M.A. thesis. He is currently performing doctoral research for his Ph.D. dissertation at the Centre for Digital Humanities at Aga Khan University-ISMC in London, funded by The Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK). His interest areas include the legal history of Arab lands under Ottoman rule and legal manuscripts. 

Ümit Kurt

Assistant Professor | University of Newcastle

Ümit Kurt is a historian of the modern Middle East. His research is on the social, cultural, and economic history of late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic in the 19th and 20th centuries with a special focus on the dispossession of Ottoman Armenians at large, imperial interest, ethnic politics, forced migration, and infrastructural transformations. He completed his dissertation in the Department of History at Clark University in 2016. He has then held several postdoctoral positions at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and the Polonsky Academy in the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Currently, He is an Assistant Professor in the School of Humanities, Creative Ind. and Social Sciences (History) in the University of Newcastle. His recent book, The Armenians of Aintab, has been the recipient of the Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies, Honorable Mention Book Prize by Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (OTSA), and PROSE Award Finalist in the World History category, the Association of American Publishers in 2022. He is also the author of Antep 1915: Genocide and Perpetrators (İletişim, 2018) and the co-author of The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide (Berghahn, 2015).  

Mehmet Kuru

Assistant Professor | Sabanci University

Dr. Mehmet Kuru completed his academic journey with distinction, having earned his B.A. from Galatasaray University in 2007 and his M.A. from Sabancı University in 2009. He attained a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2017, with a doctoral dissertation entitled "Locating an Ottoman Port City in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Izmir 1580-1780." His research focus encompasses multifaceted domains within the historical discipline, notably economic history, the history of the Mediterranean region, and environmental history. Kuru's forthcoming book project, a logical extension of his doctoral research, examines the intricate interplay of economic and ecological factors that catalyzed the profound institutional metamorphosis of the Ottoman Empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Emine Lelic

Associate Professor | Salisbury University

Dr. Emin Lelić received his doctorate from the University of Chicago, where he defended his dissertation on ethics and science in the Ottoman Empire. His interests include calligraphy, Ottoman history and literature, and horseback riding. He is currently an Associate Professor in the History Department at Salisbury University.

Johannes Makar

Doctoral Candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations | Harvard University

Johannes A.P. Makar is an historian of the Modern Middle East, specializing in Arabic intellectual and cultural history. His first project, tentatively titled “In the Margin of Reform: Coptic Intellectuals and Cross-Confessional Politics in Late Ottoman Egypt,” investigates the rise of the Nahḍa (or “Arab Renaissance”) through the writings and citational practices of Coptic intellectuals in the period 1860-1910.

Johannes is finalizing his doctorate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He curates Coptica at Harvard, a bi-lingual platform dedicated to Coptic collections at Harvard University which will launch in fall 2023. At Harvard, he has taught graduate and undergraduate students in Arabic, Arabic literature, Middle Eastern history, and Islamic studies. He has also coordinated the Research Methods in Islamic Studies Workshop (2018-2022) as well as the Middle East Beyond Workshop (2018-2020).  

In August 2023, he will be a Silas Palmer Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Archives, and in fall 2022, he was a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (IvOC), Radboud University. Johannes holds an MSc in Middle East Politics (SOAS, University of London), a BA in Arabic and Islamic Studies (Leuven University), and a BA in Philosophy (Leuven University).

Emine Esra Nalbant

Doctoral Candidate | SUNY Binghamton

Emine Esra Nalbant is a Ph.D. student in Art History Department at Binghamton University since 2021. Nalbant has an interdisciplinary background. She completed her master’s thesis in History from Bogazici University in Istanbul and her City and Regional Planning degree with Minor of Architectural Culture from Middle East Technical University in Ankara. On her master’s she worked on the life and career of Marius Michel or Michel Pasha, who led the lighthouse construction movements in the late Ottoman period. Her studies concern the relationship between the infrastructural building activities on shores after the development of steamship technology and the increased maritime traffic during the second half of the nineteenth century. She is currently writing her dissertation about the lighthouse construction boom in the nineteenth century and its correlation with port construction and other types of maritime infrastructure networks in Ottoman geography. Her interests also include the lighthouse technology itself, its relationship with the intensified maritime transportation network, and its impact on the coastal spaces and oceanic world. 

Ellen M. Nye

Academy Scholar | Harvard University

Ellen Nye is a Harvard Academy Scholar at Harvard University and an early modern global historian of money, debt, and empire. Her research spans from the eastern Mediterranean to the northern Atlantic. 

Camilla Pletuhina-Tonev

Doctoral Candidate | Princeton University

Camilla Pletuhina is a third-year Ph.D. student in the History Department at Princeton, studying the history of the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Europe under the supervision of Prof. Molly Greene. Her research traces the altering narratives on Christian Orthodoxy and the methods of enforcing orthopraxy in a trans-imperial Eurasian setting in the 17th and 18th centuries. Before joining Princeton, Camilla lived and studied in six countries. She completed her undergraduate degree in History at Anadolu University in Turkey and her Master's in Comparative History at Central European University in Austria.

Veysel Şimşek

Faculty Lecturer | McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies

Veysel Simsek is the faculty lecturer in Turkish at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. He completed his doctorate in Ottoman history at McMaster University under the direction of Dr. Virginia H. Aksan. Prior to his current appointment, he held a Chauncey Postdoctoral Fellowship in Grand Strategy with International Security Studies of Yale University (2016-18), and served as a postdoctoral research fellow and interim codirector of the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) of McGill University (2015-16). 
His broader research interests include political, social, and intellectual history of the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic (c. 1750–1950). He has also taught various courses on Ottoman, Middle Eastern and World History at Yale, McMaster, and Bilkent. His current book project, "Remaking the Ottoman Empire, 1789–1856: Imperial Ideology, Military Power, and the Politics of Islam," explores the unprecedented reconfiguration of the Ottoman state and society and focuses on the intersections of modern state formation, organized violence, and confessionalization. Concurrently, Simsek has also been studying and publishing on the subjects related to war and society in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Worlds, c. 1910-1925.

Constantine Theodoridis

Doctoral Candidate | Princeton University

Biography coming soon...

Omer Topal

Doctoral Candidate | Princeton University

Omer Faruk Topal is a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His research interests include Late Ottoman History, Modern Middle East, and Islamic Intellectual History. His articles appeared in The International History Review, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Turkish Studies.

Sultan Toprak Oker

Doctoral Candidate | University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 

Sultan Toprak Oker is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She specializes in the early modern Ottoman Empire with broad interests in intoxicants and drinking establishments, state-society relations, Islamic courts, and the circulation of people and objects. Her dissertation explores the production, trade, distribution, and consumption of alcohol in seventeenth-century Ottoman Istanbul—more particularly Galata, the city’s cosmopolitan district with the highest concentration of taverns. Challenging the conventional wisdom marginalizing alcohol’s place in Islamic societies, her dissertation demonstrates the interconnectivity, diversity, and dynamism of Ottoman society with a focus on social and economic interactions built around alcoholic drinks and taverns. Her research has been funded by the Renaissance Society of America, the American Research Institute in Turkey, and the Istanbul Research Institute in Turkey.

Christopher Whitehead

Doctoral Candidate | Ohio State University

Christopher Whitehead is a PhD candidate at Ohio State University working under the supervision of Jane Hathaway. His dissertation, “Rebellion, Reform, and Taxation in the 17th-Century Ottoman Empire: The Struggles of the Imperial Household Cavalry” examines how the contestation of military elites’ role in imperial administration gave rise to factionalism and provincial rebellion in the mid-seventeenth century. He also pursues research interests in elite networking and migration, cultural attitudes toward bribery and corruption, and the trans-imperial financial relationships linking the Ottoman Empire to the broader early modern world. He is the author of two published articles: “The Veledeş Conflict: A Reassessment of the Mid-Seventeenth-Century Rebellions of the Altı Bölük Halkı” in the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (2021), and “The Reluctant Pasha: Çerkes Dilaver and Elite Localization in the Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Empire” in Turcica (2022). He was the recipient of the 2022 Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association Graduate Student Paper Prize for his paper “The Early Career of Köprülü Mehmed Pasha: An Archival Reconstruction,” which is expected to appear in print in 2023.

Zavier Wingham

Doctoral Candidate | New York University 

Zavier Wingham (they/he) is a PhD candidate in the joint program for History and Middle East and Islamic Studies at New York University. His dissertation research explores how changing Ottoman elite conceptions of race, slavery, and blackness in the Ottoman Empire contributed to new forms of racialization of enslaved and manumitted Africans from the 1840s until the early Turkish republican period, as well as how Africans in the Ottoman empire experienced these processes sought to create new kinds of community and ways of living. Trained in both Middle Eastern and African Diaspora studies, their intellectual interests are an ever-growing constellation of Black studies, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, and literary studies. Moreover, their research is motivated by thinking across the Transatlantic, Indian Ocean, and Ottoman contexts of enslavement and invites others to consider how we might bring assumed disparate geographic, disciplinary, and theoretical questions into conversation. Their work has been supported by various grants such as Fulbright, ARIT, and Koç University's ANAMED. Beyond academia, they are a freelance editor, writer, licensed yoga instructor, and enjoys collecting postcards and tending to their plants.

Seçil Yılmaz

Assistant Professor of History | University of Pennsylvania

Seçil Yılmaz is an Assistant Professor of History and a core faculty member at the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Yılmaz specializes in the social and political history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East with a focus on medicine, science, and sexuality. Her research concentrates on the social and political implications of venereal disease in the late Ottoman Empire by tracing the questions of colonialism, modern governance, biopolitics, and sexuality. Her other projects include research on the relationship between religion, history of emotions, and contagious diseases in the late Ottoman Empire as well as history of reproductive health technologies and humanitarianism in the modern Middle East. She is currently working on a book project tentatively titled Biopolitical Empire: Syphilis, Medicine, and Sex in the Late Ottoman World.  Yilmaz is the recipient of the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcom H. Kerr Dissertation Award. Her publications have appeared in the journals including Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies and in edited collections such as The Routledge Companion to Sexuality and Colonialism. She is the co-curator of the podcast series on Women, Gender, and Sex in the Ottoman World at Ottoman History Podcast.