University of Arizona students at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
University of Arizona students at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Brian Silverstein

Associate Professor, School of Anthropology. Director, ACTS

Brian Silverstein is a cultural anthropologist in the UA School of Anthropology. His research examines technopolitics and the remaking of agrarian worlds in Turkey. Earlier work was on religion and modernity in Turkey.

Linda Darling

Professor, Department of History

Linda Darling received her PhD in History from the University of Chicago with the eminent Ottoman historian Professor Halil Inalcık.  She is the author of Revenue-Raising and Legitimacy: Tax Collection and Finance Administration in the Ottoman Empire, 1560-1660 (1996), based on research on tax documents and petitions in the Prime Minister’s Ottoman Archives (Basbakanlik), and A History of Social Justice and Political Power in the Middle East: The Circle of Justice from Mesopotamia to Globalization (2013), drawing on political texts and the literature of advice (nasihat).  She has also written on taxation issues, early Ottoman administration, the question of holy war (gaza), crime, and East-West relations.  Her next project evaluates Ottoman works of advice against data from salary and promotion registers to study elite competition in the seventeenth-century empire.  She is Immediate Past Secretary and Member of the Board of Directors of the American Research Institute in Turkey, Executive Secretary and Member of the Executive Board of the International Association of Ottoman Social and Economic History, and President-Elect of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association.

Dr. Darling’s courses related to Ottoman or Turkish history include: “Ottoman Empire to 1800″ “Women and Gender in Islam” “The Mediterranean as a Borderland” “Ottoman Historical Readings” “Religion and State in Islam” “History of Sufism”

Benjamin Fortna

Director and Professor, MENAS

Benjamin C. Fortna is a 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 the period between 1908 and 1920. After completing degrees at Yale, Columbia and the University of Chicago, he taught at the School of Oriental & African Studies in the University of London for eighteen years.  During his time in London he served as series editor with Professor Ulrike Freitag (Berlin) of the SOAS/Routledge Studies on the Middle Eastand on several editorial boards, including the Turkish Historical Review andMiddle Eastern Studies.  He has appeared on such BBC programs as Who Do You Think You Are? and The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Neighbours.

Ahmet Okal

Assistant Professor, Modern Turkish language, MENAS

Ahmet Okal, PhD, has been teaching Turkish at the University of Arizona since 2005. He taught German and Italian at Texas Tech University before coming to Arizona. He teaches all levels of Turkish language classes as well as a second-year Turkish language and culture class designed to give students cultural competence before going to study abroad programs in Turkey. His dissertation focused on second-year classes and a program called Turkish Global Simulation. TGS prepares students for life in Istanbul by simulating a digital living environment in an apartment building in Istanbul. TGS class takes place in a language lab and all the class material pertaining to various aspects of life in Turkey and particularly in Istanbul are accessible on and off campus. He has coordinated study abroad programs to Turkey.


Neşe Kaya Özkan

Neşe Kaya Özkan is a Linguistic Anthropology Ph.D. candidate in the School of Anthropology. She completed her B.A. in Foreign Language Education at Bogazici University in 2008. Nese received her first MA degree at the same university in Linguistics Program in 2011 with a thesis focusing on the ethnic identity formation of second and third generation Cretan immigrants whose ancestors were subjected to a population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1920s. For her second M.A. degree, which she received from Sabanci University in 2014 in Cultural Studies, Nese shifted her focus to the study of the culture, history, and language of Hemshin people living predominantly in northeastern Turkey. For her Ph.D. research, she will focus on ethnic and linguistic identity formation of Hemshin people: the language ideologies they hold as well as recently emerging language activism and their impact on the preservation and continuation of Hemshin language.

Emrah Karakuş

Emrah Karakus is a Ph.D. student in the School of Anthropology whose research interests include political theory and practices of resistance, trans studies, body politics, posthumanism, queer theory, urban transformation and neoliberalization in the Middle East. He received his B.A in International Relations from Istanbul Kültür University with a minor degree in English Language and Literature. He holds an MSc in Security Studies from University College London where he studied as a Jean Monnet Scholar.

Atacan Atakan

Atacan Atakan is a PhD student in the School of Middle East and North African Studies. His research interests include: Social History of the Ottoman Empire, Everyday Lives of Children in the Late Ottoman Period, Children's Literature, Children's Education, Children's Sexuality, Scouting and Physical Education, Ottoman Feminist Movement, Ottoman Female Authors, Intellectual History of the Ottoman Empire, Nationalism, Feminist Theories, and Body Politics

Saffo Papantonopoulou

I am a dual PhD student in the Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies departments. My research is focused on the intersection of LGBT issues and the politics of Ottoman heritage in the Balkans and the Middle East, with my geographic focus on the city of Thessaloniki and northern Greece more generally. My methodological framework is informed by the intersections of history and anthropology.

From an anthropological approach, I am interested in tracing the ways in which orientalist geographic imaginaries along the ambiguous borders of "Europe" and the "Middle East" intersect with gender and sexual politics. Thessaloniki is a crucial site in understanding these discourses since, from the 19th century to the present, the city has moved from being seen as the westernmost city of the "east" to the easternmost city of the "west." From a historical approach, I am interested in tracing how these processes of modernization and urban transformation— from the 19th century to the present— inform the ctiy's urban geography and intersect with notions of "east" and "west," "tradition" and "modernity," etc., and what the significance of these discourses and geographies are for transgender people in the city today.


John Perugini

John Perugini is a Ph.D. student in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies with a minor in Journalism. His research interests include citizen journalism; grassroots and citizen media; digital media, connectivity, and publics.


Courtney Dorroll

Courtney Dorroll is an Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at Wofford College, where she teaches courses on the Middle East, World Religions and an upper level course on the Ritualized Spaces of the Middle East. She completed her PhD in the University of Arizona’s School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies with a dissertation entitled The Spatial Politics of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).  Courtney’s research and Turkish language training was funded by the Jacob K. Javits Scholarship, FLAS, CLS and the University of Arizona’s Confluence Center.  She has presented her research at the Middle East Studies Association, American Academy of Religion, American Anthropological Association, UCSB Islamic Studies Graduate Student Conference, Duke-UNC Chapel Hill Graduate Islamic Studies Conference and University of Arizona’s Southwest Graduate Conference in Middle Eastern and North African Studies.  Her curriculum vitae and sample syllabi can be found at

Meltem Odabaş

Meltem Odabaş (PhD, Sociology). I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Indiana University. My research investigates the role of interaction and communication networks in decision-making and behavior in a variety of social settings including markets, online communication platforms, and social movements. I mainly use quantitative data using various methods, including statistical methods and regression analyses, social network analysis (SNA) and computational methods. 

Danielle V. Schoon

Danielle V. Schoon teaches the Turkish Studies curriculum in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Ohio State University, including Turkish Culture and Turkish Literature in Translation. She also teaches in the Dance Department at OSU. She completed a dual PhD in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS) and Anthropology at the University of Arizona, with a specialization in modern Turkey. Her dissertation studied urban Romani (Gypsy) communities at the intersection of urban development, the expansion of civil society, and the pluralization of cultural identities, in order to understand how difference is conceived and experienced by marginalized groups in the context ongoing liberalizing reforms in Turkey. To complete this research, she spent several summers and fourteen consecutive months in Turkey, funded by Fulbright-Hays and the Institute of Turkish Studies.

Joanna Wulfsberg

Joanna Wulfsberg (PhD, School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies) is a Foreign Service Officer with the US Dept of State. Her research is focused on Turkish music in social and political contexts from the Ottoman era to the present. In addition, she studies Ottoman architecture and poetry. Her current projects include the song competition of the Turkish Olympiad and the impact of urban renewal projects on Roma musicians. In April 2014 she presented on the Turkish Olympiad at the Southwest Graduate Conference for Middle Eastern and North African Studies and as an invited speaker at the Association of Graduate Ethnomusicology and Musicology Students (AGEMS) at University of Texas at Austin. Before entering the University of Arizona, Joanna taught Turkish and German at the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute and English as a Second Language at Vanderbilt University. She also served as Resident Director of the Critical Language Scholarship Program in Bursa, Turkey, for three summers. She has an MA in musicology from the Eastman School of Music and a BA in music and architecture from Wellesley College.

Alex Schweig

(PhD History) I work on the social history of technology in the late Ottoman Empire. Specifically, I am studying the ways in which the construction and early operation of the Anatolian Railroad interacted with existing social and economic patterns in Central Anatolia from the 1890s until 1914. By taking a social historical and user-centered approach to the history of technology, I seek to complicate the model of technology transfer in the Middle East as a process of “Westernization,” as well as to demonstrate the ways new technology enabled existing Ottoman patterns of trade, labor, and land use to be synthesized with new patterns, rather than simply being replaced by them. Doing so also allows me to reexamine the relationship between the centralizing Ottoman state and its subjects. My research makes use of sources from a variety of sites including the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archive, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the SALT Research Center, and the Ataturk Library in Istanbul, the Prime Ministry Republican Archive, the Red Crescent Archive and the Turkish National Library in Ankara, and the British National Archives in London.

Gulsum Gurbuz

(PhD, MENAS). I completed my Masters on Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in CT. I then did my PhD at Arizona. I am interested in Ottoman history in general but my current research is particularly about Kurdish nationalism in the early 20th century, Kurdish madrasas and their influences on Kurdish consciousness, and the Kurdish media of that time. I speak Turkish and English and can read 19th and 20th century published Ottoman manuscripts.

Mija Sanders

Mija Sanders (PhD, Middle East & North African Studies) works on humanitarianism, distribution politics and gender, masculinity, citizenship, biopolitics, feminist theory, Turkish Studies, Kurdish Studies, Yezidis, migration, and refugees. She earned her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona in 2012 with a thesis titled "Stolen Stories": Kurdish LGBTT Activism in Diyarbakir," based on original ethnographic research carried out in Summer 2012 in Diyarbakir, Turkey. She earned her B.A. from Portland State University in International Studies focused on the Middle East, with a Minor in Turkish language, and a Turkish Studies Certificate.

Hikmet Kocamaner

Hikmet Kocamaner (PhD, Anthropology) is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UNC, Wilmington. A cultural anthropologist working on secularism, Islamic movements, gender, and the politics of the family in Turkey, previously he was a visiting postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and a lecturer in the Anthropology Department at Brandeis University. He received numerous grants and fellowships including a dissertation fieldwork grant by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a dissertation proposal development grant by the Social Science Research Council, and a foreign language teaching fellowship by Fulbright.

Ali Atabey

Ali Atabey (PhD, History) is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas, San Antonio. He specializes in 17th-century Ottoman and Middle East history with a specific interest in world historical and interdisciplinary approaches. He received his MA from Sabanci University in Istanbul with a thesis that analyzed the link between legal credibility and components of status ranging from occupational to economic status, to knowledge, and to piety in Ottoman legal culture during the early modern period. Ali’s broad interests include the early modern Mediterranean, cross-cultural and cross-religious interactions, geohistory, and socio-legal history. He received an SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship and a SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF), conducting archival research in Istanbul, London, and Paris on the sociocultural aspects of the early modern Ottoman-European interactions.  

Hayal Akarsu

Hayal Akarsu (PhD, Anthropology) is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at Brandeis University. Her research examines changing conceptualizations and practices of security in Turkey through a study of ‘social policing’. The General Directorate of Security in Turkey has gone through major transformations as part of ‘democratization’ and ‘good governance’ frameworks of European Union entry negotiations. Especially under the ‘neoliberal’ rule of the Justice and Development Party since 2002 security has become a crucial field in reworking the relationship between state and society in Turkey. Through a fieldwork-based investigation, she explores the implementation of these new conceptions and practices of security and their circulation in everyday life. The study ranges from state institutions and officials to a local police station and adjacent neighborhood community in Istanbul, showing that social policing not only involves an effort by police to change their institutional image and culture, but also refers to a set of new governmental technologies that aim to shape the way ordinary citizens behave and how they experience themselves, the state and security. This reformulation of security provides a unique opportunity to rethink not only the state’s shifting role as a ‘security making entity’ but also changing grounds of state-society encounters especially in neoliberal settings. She was awarded a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, which was also supported by several other small-research grants provided by the School of Anthropology at U of A.

Seçil Uluışık

Seçil Uluisik (PhD, History) conducts research on the politics of taxation and inter-imperial networks of non-Muslim Ottoman provincial elites in the context of local and imperial governance during the first half of the nineteenth century.