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Mostafa Minawi

Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Ottoman & Turkish Studies Initiative

Mostafa Minawi

Mcgraw Hall, Room 348

Educational Background

Ph.D. - Departments of History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, New York University         

M.A. - Department of History, University of Toronto.

Bachelor of  Civil Engineering & Management, Faculty of Engineering and DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University.

Languages: Arabic, Modern Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, French.



Overall my research asks: What do we learn about the history of the Middle East if we were to expand our historical inquiries well beyond the limits of the constructs of area studies?  What do we learn when we stop privileging late-19th-century ideas like the “Muslim World” or the “Arab World” in our analysis of social and political histories of the MENA region? What does it do to our discipline if we dared to make larger claims not based on the standard of European historical experiences, but on those of Middle Eastern and African life-worlds? 

Although my primary interest is the Ottoman engagement in trans-imperial competition in the Sahara and the Red Sea Basin, I ultimately seek to provide an understanding of the history of colonialism, different forms of imperial rule, and notions of sovereignty as a process of violent negotiation between Ottoman, European, and African powers at the end of the 19th century. 


Modern Middle East, Near Eastern Studies, Ottoman Studies, Ottoman History, Transimperial History, World History, Colonialism, Imperialism, Diplomatic History, Social History, Biography, Internationalization, Refugees, Northeast African, Sahara, Arabia, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia, Mediterranean, Turkey, Istanbul, Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Red Sea. The Horn of Africa.


  • History

Graduate Fields

  • History
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Africana Studies and Research Center


  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Jewish Studies Program
  • Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies


Offering a history of Ethiopian-Ottoman-European relations at the turn of the 20th century through the use of previously untapped archival sources in Istanbul, Khartoum, Beirut, Damascus and London (and more recently Somalia and Djibouti) my new book project tentatively titled The Axis of Imperial Power in the Horn of Africa: Ottoman-European-Ethiopian Relations and the Geopolitics of Colonialism promises to deliver a history of colonial competition in East Africa, delving into the complex inter-imperial relations during this period of heightened military, economic, and diplomatic activity along the African coast of the Red Sea and Yemen. 

This project is a natural follow up to my first book, The Ottoman Scramble for Africa: Empire and Diplomacy in the Sahara and the Hijaz (Stanford University Press, 2016), which argues that the Ottoman participation in the Conference of Berlin (1884-85) and its subsequent involvement in an aggressive inter-imperial competition for colonial possessions in Africa were part of a radical auto-re-imagining of this once powerful global empire. It redefines the parameters of agency in late-19th-century colonialism to include the Ottoman Empire, in the process turning the accepted framework of a European colonizer and a non-European colonized on its head.  Most importantly, it offers a counter-narrative to the traditional telling of late-19th-century Middle Eastern history as that of the so-called “Sick Man of Europe,” by challenging the idea that the Great Powers were the sole agents in the so-called “Eastern Question.”

My second book project focuses on the life and work of an Ottoman officer and diplomat who lived in Istanbul but traveled extensively in Africa and Europe. Currently, I am writing on an annotated translation of one of his travelogues that he wrote on a journey to Addis Ababa, tentatively titled An Ottoman Officer and Gentleman in East Africa: A Journey from Istanbul to Addis Ababa.




Osmanlılar ve Afrika Talanı:Sahra'dan Hicaz'a İmparatorluk ve Diplomasi (Istanbul: Koc University Press, 2018).

The Ottoman Scramble for Africa: Empire and Diplomacy in the Sahara and the Hijaz (Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press, 2016).

An Ottoman Officer and a Gentleman in East Africa: A Journey from Istanbul to Addis Ababa (In progress - Under contract with Stanford University Press).

The Axis of Imperial Power in the Horn of Africa: Ottoman-European-Ethiopian Relations and the Geopolitics of Colonialism (In progress – Under contract with Stanford University Press).


Peer-Reviewed Articles

·  “Telegraphs and Territoriality in Ottoman Africa and Arabia During the Age of High Imperialism,” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 18 (2016): 576-587.

·  “Beyond Rhetoric: Reassessing Bedouin-Ottoman relations along the route of the Hijaz Telegraph Line at the end of the nineteenth century,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 58 (1-2) (2015): 75–104.

·    “Juridical Colonialism, International Law, and the Ottoman Empire.” (under review)


Book Review

·  Review: Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem, 1872–1908 by Johann Büssow (Brill, 2011), Journal of Islamic Studies 24 (3): 326–7. 


Sample Newspaper Op.Eds.