Professor Benjamin Fortna

Key information

Professorial Research Associate Centre for Ottoman Studies Advisory Board Member
BA (Yale), MA (Columbia), PhD (Chicago)
Email address


Professor Fortna is an historian of the Modern Middle East with a particular research focus on the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.  His publications include Imperial Classroom: Islam, Education and the State in the Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2002), The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History, co-edited with C Amin and E Frierson (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Learning to Read in the late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  His current research explores the final years of the Ottoman Empire through the life story of an Ottoman special operations officer active in various wars between 1911 and 1920.

He serves as series editor with Professor Ulrike Freitag (Berlin) of the SOAS/Routledge Studies on the Middle East and on several editorial boards, including the Turkish Historical Review and Middle Eastern Studies.  He has appeared on such BBC programmes as Who Do You Think You Are? and The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Empire.

Previous PhD Students 

Sultonbek Aksakolov, 'Islam in Soviet Tajikistan: State Policy, Religious Figures and the Practice of Religion (1943-1991)', 2014

Rose Esber, 'War in Mandate Palestine: 29 November 1947 to 15 May 1948', 2002

Florian Riedler, 'Opposition to the Tanzimat State: Conspiracy and Legitimacy in the Ottoman Empire, 1859-1878', 2003

Otto Pohl, 'Shallow Roots: The Exile Experiences of the Russian-Germans, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks in Comparative Perspectives', 2004

Nazan Çiçek, 'The Eastern Critics of the "Eastern Question": The Young Ottomans 1866-1871', 2005

Sotirios Dimitriadis, 'The Making of an Ottoman Port City: The State, Local Elites and Urban Space in Salonica, 1870-1912', 2013.

Halil Ibrahim Erbay, 'Teaching and Learning in the Madrasas of Istanbul During the Late Ottoman Period', 2009

John Harte, 'Contesting The Past in Mandate Palestine: History Teaching for Palestinian Arabs under British Rule', 2009

Antonis Hadjikyriacou, 'Society And Economy on an Ottoman Island: Cyprus in the Eighteenth Century', 2011

Stefano Taglia, 'The intellectual's dilemma: The Writings of Ahmet Riza and Mehmet Sabahettin on Reform and the Future of the Ottoman Empire', 2012

Pheroze Unwalla, 'Re-Imagining Gallipoli: Imperial Pasts and Foreign Presence in a History of Turkish National Remembrance, 1923-2013', 2014.

Melania Savino, 'Archaeology and its Representation in the Turkish Republic, 1923-1960', 2013

Michael Hadley Talbot, 'British Diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire during the Long Eighteenth Century', 2013

Philipp Christian Wirtz, '"Image of a Past World": Depictions of the late Ottoman Empire in Turkish Autobiographies', 2013

Research interests

History of the Ottoman Empire; modern Middle East; History of Education


Contact Benjamin