Kearby Chess

Graduate Student

Kearby Chess is a Ph.D. student in Middle East history from Longview, Washington, who studies the environment, science, and agriculture in the late Ottoman Empire. His research focuses on the changes in agricultural practices that followed the implementation of Tanzimat-era land reforms in Ottoman Arab provinces.

Kearby earned bachelor’s degrees in History and Anthropology from Washington State University, where he first cultivated an interest in the history of science and agriculture while studying the technological transformation of the postwar Columbia River Plateau. He then received a master’s degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies and completed a thesis exploring imperialism and public health in nineteenth-century Ottoman Iraq under the supervision of the late Walter Andrews. He then attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and served in the United States Army as an Arabic and Turkish translator.

At Princeton he hopes to illustrate through his research how an emergent class of technocrats in the late Ottoman Empire sought to realize social transformation through new scientific agricultural schooling, model farms, and ethno-religious settlement policy as a vanguard of both social and agricultural change.

Year of Study
Second Year
Area of Interest
Climate History
Environmental History
History of Technology
Imperial History
Modern Science
Rural History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
19th Century
20th Century
Middle East and North Africa