Position title: Kemal H. Karpat Associate Professor of History
Office: 5110 Mosse Humanities Bldg.
Mailbox: 5024 Mosse Humanities Bldg.
Office Hours: Fridays 9:00-11:00am on Zoom, or in person by appointment
I research and teach the history of the late Ottoman Empire and the emergence of the modern Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am especially interested to understand how Ottomans used new kinds of technical knowledge to transform their society in the decades before World War I. In my first book, The Lighthouse and the Observatory: Islam, Science, and Empire in Late Ottoman Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2018), I showed how new astronomical practices enabled the growth of the modern Egyptian state, and of Islamic movements that emphasized uniform and precise observance of ritual duties. I am currently conducting research for my second book, The Long Debt: The Ottoman Loans and Economic Governance in the Twentieth Century. This project investigates how the Ottoman state bankruptcy of the late nineteenth century helped birth the technical infrastructure for two enduring features of the twentieth century: the global political power of bondholders, and national economic governance in the post-Ottoman states of the Middle East and the Balkans.
I currently chair the Turkish Studies Committee, which oversees the Kemal H. Karpat Center for Turkish Studies. The Karpat Center provides funding to graduate students, encourages undergraduate study of Turkish language, hosts or co-sponsors academic events, and works to advance UW-Madison’s long tradition of excellence in diverse areas of Turkish Studies.
In addition to Introduction to the Modern Middle East (History 139), I offer courses that explore science, technology, finance, and religion in Ottoman and Middle East History.
PhD, Princeton University
AB, Harvard College
- With A. Tunç Şen. “Science: Institutions, Genres, and Materials.” Forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to Ottoman History, ed. Alexis Wick.
- “‘Impossible to Arrive at an Accurate Estimate’: The Interested Accounting of the Ottoman Public Debt, 1873-1881.” British Journal for the History of Science v. 55, no. 4 (2022): 477-493.
- “Science and Islam in Modernity,” Encyclopedia of the History of Science. Published online, November 2022,
- “Another Empire: Science in the Ottoman Lands.” Routledge Handbook of Science and Empire, ed. Andrew Goss. Abingdon: Routledge, 2021.
- “The Voyage of the Samannud: Pilgrimage, Cholera, and Empire on an Ottoman-Egyptian Steamship Journey,” International Journal of Turkish Studies 23 (2017): 1-18.
- “Positioning the Watch Hand: ʿUlamaʾ and the Practice of Mechanical Timekeeping in Cairo, 1737-1874,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 47 (2015): 489-510.
- “‘By virtue of your knowledge’: Scientific materialism and the fatwās of Rashīd Riḍā,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 75 (2012): 223-247.
- Bayard and Cleveland Dodge Memorial Prize for best dissertation in Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
- Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Fellowship, Princeton University
- American Historical Association Bernadotte Schmitt Research Grant
- U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Egypt
- History 139 – The Middle East in the Twentieth Century – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
- History 200 – Historical Studies: From the Ottoman Empire to Modern Turkey – Syllabus 2023 (pdf)
- History 201 – The Historian’s Craft: Technology and Revolution in the Middle East – Syllabus 2021 (pdf)
- History of Science 280 – Honors Seminar: Global History Creationism – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
- History of Science 350 – Islam, Science, and Bioethics