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 received his PhD in anthropology from UC Berkeley. A cultural anthropologist, he has published on Islam and modernity in Turkey, Turkish Islamist intellectuals, Sufism in the late Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey, and more recently on institutional reform in Turkey. His book, Islam and Modernity in Turkey (2012), based on two years of fieldwork in Istanbul and regional cities, examines Islamic disciplines of ethical self-formation in Turkey and their articulation with mass media and norms of liberal citizenship. Other recent publications include: “Statistics, Reform and Regimes of Expertise in Turkey” (in Turkish Studies), “Reform in Turkey: Liberalization as Government and Critique” (in Anthropology Today), and “Disciplines of Presence in Modern Turkey: Discourse, Companionship and the Mass Mediation of Islamic Practice” (in Cultural Anthropology).

Cihan Artunç

Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Cihan Artunç received his PhD from Yale, and his main research interests are economic history and applied theory. His dissertation provides a formal theory of legal pluralism and studies the implications of multiplicity of legal systems on welfare, growth, contractual choice and trade. Using primary evidence, his empirical work focuses on a particular facet of choice of law through the sale of berats, or patents of protection, that granted access to European legal jurisprudence to non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century. His other work includes the menu of organizational forms available in the early modern Ottoman Empire. He received Yale’s MacMillan Dissertation Research Grant (2012—2013), Yale Cowles Foundation’s Cowles Fellowship (2008—2012), and a Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Doctoral Fellowship (2008—2013).

Cihan holds two degrees in Economics (MA and MPhil) from Yale University, a degree in Economics (BA) from Boğaziçi University, and a degree in Mathematics (BSc) from Boğaziçi University.

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.

David Gramling

Assistant Professor, Department of German Studies

PhD, German Literature, University of California at Berkeley. David Gramling’s research areas include Turkish German migration and literary history, multilingual film and literature, theoretical approaches to monolingualism, gender and LGBT studies, and literary translation. He has completed two novel translations from Turkish: The Madonna in the Fur Coat (1943) by Sabahattin Ali (with Ilker Hepkaner, under review with Syracuse University Press) and The Residence (2009) by Zafer Şenocak (under review with Lir Agency Istanbul). He has also co-translated the poems of Murathan Mungan with Aron Aji for Translators without Borders, as well as a short story of Ersan Üldes for The American Review. He is a faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, and a member of the governing board of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. His previous academic post was in the humanities program at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

Amy Newhall

Executive Director, MESA; Associate Professor, MENAS

PhD Harvard. Amy Newhall’s career in the study of art and material culture in the eastern Mediterranean began in Turkey. During the eight months she lived and studied there as a freshman in college, she pursued an independent study in addition to language and history courses. For three months she followed the work of conservation masters patiently restoring the glories of that most private of venues, the harem section of the Topkapi Palace, which at that time was closed to the public. From this wonderland experience, she gained her metier. A BA in art history at UC Berkeley was then followed by an MA in Arabic Studies at the American University in Cairo, and a PhD at Harvard in Fine Arts. But the central themes that have dominated her interests grew from that initial experience: the relationship of art and power, the shaping of material culture in the service of the state, and the exchange and dissemination of intellectual and craft traditions across the Mediterranean.

“As our Turkish programs grow, I find it incredibly exciting to work with students who find in Turkey the well-springs of their inspiration be they in the dynamic modern period or in the rich past. I am fortunate this year to take a group of students from Arizona’s three universities to Turkey to explore the world of art and commerce.”

Ahmet Okal

Lecturer, Modern Turkish language, MENAS

Ahmet Okal 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 focuses on this second-year class and is 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. This summer he is coordinating a study abroad program to Turkey with Amy Newhall.


Meltem Odabaş

Meltem Odabaş is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Arizona, and her areas of interest are work and occupations, social networks, social capital, economic sociology and social movements. She received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Economics at Boğaziçi University (Istanbul, Turkey). Her recent works focus on economic formation of retail markets, economic and social formation of online communication networks, and reaction of social movements to repressive measures.

Joanna Wulfsberg

Joanna Wulfsberg is a PhD student in the University of Arizona’s School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies. 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

I am a PhD candidate in the History Department currently writing a dissertation 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.

Neşe Kaya Özkan

Neşe Kaya Özkan is a Linguistic Anthropology Ph.D. student 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 department of Gender and Women's Studies 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. Currently he is completing his MA thesis for the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Istanbul Sehir University.

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

Gulsum Gurbuz

I completed my Masters on Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in CT. I then came to Arizona and later started at the UofA’s PhD program in Near Eastern Studies. 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.

Saffo Papantonopoulou

I am interested in the place of history and memory in understanding present-day Greek-Turkish relations, in the context of neoliberalism, migration, and the Greek financial crisis. My current project focuses on the presence/ absence of Ottoman historical memory in present-day Thessaloniki, with an interest in the ways in which immigrants, queers, and antifascists make use of Thessaloniki's Ottoman past. Although my project is focused on Salonika/Thessaloniki, I am interested in a broader historical narrative around ethnic and religious difference throughout the Ottoman empire as well as the disastrous results of nation-state building in the Eastern Mediterranean. Historically, I am interested in the ways in which the convergence of Greek Nationalism, Kemalism, and Zionism helped destroy the multi-ethnic world that was Ottoman Salonika, and what reverberations this history has today, in the present, in Thessaloniki and throughout the eastern Mediterranean. In the present, I am interested in the ways in which historical nation-state formation in Greece, around the spectre of "the Turk" as enemy, is now being deployed against Muslim immigrants in Greece. Areas of Study: Anthropology - Gender and Sexuality - Transgender Studies - Colonialism and Imperialism - Nationalism - Historical Memory - Ottoman history - Greek-Turkish relations - Neoottomanism

John Perugini

Mija Sanders

Mija Sanders is a PhD student and is interested in 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.

Ali Atabey

Ali Atabey is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Arizona specializing 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 in 2015, enabling him to do archival research in Ottoman archives in Istanbul, and recently received The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF), which will allow him to conduct archival research in Istanbul, London, and Paris during the 2016-17 academic year for his dissertation project on the sociocultural aspects of the early modern Ottoman-European interactions.  

Hayal Akarsu

I am a PhD candidate in the School of Anthropology. My 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, I explore 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. My research shows 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.  

I was awarded a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant for my research project, which is also supported by several other small-research grants provided by the School of Anthropology at U of A.

Seçil Uluışık

I am a PhD Candidate with a Major in Middle East History and a minor in Comparative History at the University of Arizona. Currently, I am based in Vienna, Austria as a research fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences for the project titled "Between Sultan and Emperor: Imperial Legacies, Religion, and Governance in Ottoman- Habsburg Borderlands, 1800- 1900", and writing my dissertation.  (For more information, see:

During the 2013- 2014 academic year I conducted multi- country archival research for my dissertation in the Ottoman archives of Istanbul (Turkey) and Sofia (Bulgaria). I had been awarded dissertation research fellowship by the American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS), and SBSRI dissertation research support grant by the University of Arizona to complete my research.  Under the supervision of Dr Linda Darling, my dissertation project examines 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. My dissertation is tentatively titled “Politics of Taxation and Non- Muslim Provincial Elites in the Ottoman Empire: The Case of Chorbadjis”.


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

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 Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Arizona (UA), with a specialization in modern Turkey. Her dissertation studies 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. 

Schoon, Danielle van Dobben. 2014. “’Sulukule is the gun and we are its Bullets’: Urban renewal and Romani identity in Istanbul.” CITY: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, Vol. 18, No. 6: 720-731. DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2014.962885

Hikmet Kocamaner

Hikmet Kocamaner is a visiting postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. A cultural anthropologist working on secularism, Islamic movements, gender, and the politics of the family in Turkey, he received a dual PhD in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona in August 2014. Previously he was 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.