SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Professor Benjamin Fortna

BA (Yale), MA (Columbia), PhD (Chicago)
  • Teaching
  • Research
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Ben Fortna
Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Professorial Research Associate

Centre for Ottoman Studies

Advisory Board Member

Professor Benjamin Fortna
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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



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


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Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • Near and Middle East
Country Expertise
  • Lebanon
  • Palestine
  • Syria
  • Turkey


Authored Books

Fortna, Benjamin (2010) Learning to Read in the late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fortna, Benjamin (2002) Imperial Classroom. Islam, Education and the State in Late Ottoman Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Fortna, Benjamin (2010) 'Reading between Public and Private in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic'. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, (30) 3, pp 563-573.

Fortna, Benjamin (2004) 'Change in the School Maps of the Late Ottoman Empire'. Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography, (vol. 5), pp 17-28.

Fortna, Benjamin (2001) 'Education and Autobiography at the End of the Ottoman Empire'. Die Welt des Islams, (41) 1, pp 1-31.

Fortna, Benjamin (2001) 'Learning to Read in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic'. Comparative Studies of South Asia Africa and the Middle East, (21) 1-2, pp 33-41.

Fortna, Benjamin (2000) 'Islamic Morality in Late Ottoman “SECULAR” Schools'. International Journal of Middle East Studies, (32) 3, pp 369-393.

Fortna, Benjamin (2000) 'Remapping Ottoman Muslim Identity in the Hamidian Era: The Role of Cartographic Artifacts'. Yearbook of the Sociology of Islam, (3), pp 45-56.

Edited Books or Journals

Fortna, Benjamin and Katsikas, Stefanos and Kamouzis, Dimitris and Konortas, Paraskevas, (eds.), (2013) State-Nationalisms in the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Turkey: Orthodox and Muslims, 1830-1945. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. (SOAS/Routledge Studies on the Middle East).

Amin, C. M. and Fortna, Benjamin and Frierson, E. B., (eds.), (2005) Modern Middle Eastern History: A Sourcebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Book Chapters

Fortna, Benjamin (2011) 'Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire and After'. In: Cummings, Sally N and Hinnebusch, Raymond A., (eds.), Sovereignty After Empire: Comparing the Middle East and Central Asia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Fortna, Benjamin (2010) 'The Ottoman Educational Legacy'. In: Kerslake, Celia and Öktem, Kerem and Robins, Philip, (eds.), Turkey's Engagement with Modernity: Conflict and Change in the Twentieth Century. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 15-26.

Fortna, Benjamin (2008) 'The reign of Abdülhamid II'. In: Kasaba, Resat, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Turkey. Volume 4: Turkey in the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 38-61.

Fortna, Benjamin (2007) 'Emphasizing the Islamic: Modifying the Curriculum of Late Ottoman State Schools'. In: Kreiser, Klaus and Georgeon, François, (eds.), Enfance et jeunesse dans l'islam – Chilhood and Youth in the Muslim World. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, pp 193-209.

Fortna, Benjamin (2007) 'Reading, Hegemony and Counterhegemony in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic'. In: Chalcraft, J. and Noorani, Y., (eds.), Counterhegemony in the Colony and Postcolony.. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 141-54.

Fortna, Benjamin (2002) 'Turkey - Education System'. In: Levinson, David and Christensen, Karen, (eds.), Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp 547-549.

Fortna, Benjamin (2000) 'The Kindergarten in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic'. In: Wollons, R., (ed.), Kindergartens and Cultures: The Global Diffusion of an Idea. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp 251-273.


This list was last generated on Thursday, 7th July 2022, 17:45 Europe/London.