Pantheon of Heroes, Kazan 1912Sudak, CrimeaInterior of Blue Mosque, IstanbulSunset over the Black Sea, Sevastopol 2006Tatar Dancer, outside KazanSergiev Posad, RussiaOrtakoy, Istanbul

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

 

Books

Turks Across Empires: Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands (Oxford University Press, November 2014)

Articles

Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14,3 (Summer 2013), 485-505. "Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia."

Book Chapter: "The Economics of Muslim Cultural Reform" (2011)

Ab Imperio article: "For the Ottomanist in Russia and the Russianist in Istanbul: A Guide to the Archives of Eurasia" (2009)

IJMES article: "Immigration, Return, and the Politics of Citizenship: Russian Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, 1860-1914" (2007)

Dissertation: "Turkic Worlds: Community Leadership and Collective Identity in the Russian and Ottoman Empires, 1870-1914" (2007)

Master's Thesis: "Memory and Political Symbolism in Post-September 12 Turkey: A History of the May 27th Debate" (2001)

Earlier (pre-graduate school) newspaper and journal articles

 

Turks Across Empires (from back cover)

"Turks Across Empires tells the story of the pan-Turkists, Muslim activists from Russia who gained international notoriety during the Young Turk era of Ottoman history. Yusuf Akçura, İsmail Gasprinskii and Ahmet Ağaoğlu are today remembered as the forefathers of Turkish nationalism, but in the decade preceding the First World War they were known among bureaucrats, journalists and government officials in Russia and Europe as dangerous Muslim radicals. This volume traces the lives and undertakings of the pan-Turkists in the Russian and Ottoman empires, examining the ways in which these individuals formed a part of some of the most important developments to take place in the late imperial era.    

James H. Meyer draws upon a vast array of sources, including personal letters, Russian and Ottoman state archival documents, and published materials to recapture the trans-imperial worlds of the pan-Turkists. Through his exploration of the lives of Akçura, Gasprinskii and Ağaoğlu, Meyer analyzes the bigger changes taking place in the imperial capitals of Istanbul and St. Petersburg, as well as on the ground in central Russia, Crimea and the Caucasus.

Turks Across Empires focuses especially upon three developments occurring in the final decades of empire: an explosion in human mobility across borders, the outbreak of a wave of revolutions in Russia and the Middle East, and the emergence of deeply politicized forms of religious and national identity. As these are also important characteristics of the post-Cold War era, argues Meyer, the events surrounding the pan-Turkists provide valuable lessons regarding the nature of present-day international and cross-cultural geopolitics."  

For my comments on the book and the book-writing process, see the book page on my webpage.

Speaking Sharia to The State

In 2013 this article appeared in the summer edition of Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. Bearing the name "Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia," this article looks at the ways in which Tsarist officials and Muslim protesters invoked similar discourses pertaining to Islam and Sharia in central Russia of the late nineteenth century.

In particular, I was struck by the quite literal ways in which some Russianist historians were reading petitions written by Muslims to state officials. By looking at the ways in which Muslim subjects and Tsarist officials both invoked Islam in their communications with one another, I argue in this article that the Islamic discourses they employed were as much a reflection of Tsarist state policymaking than self-evident expressions of Islamic piety.

Book Chapter: The Economics of Muslim Cultural Reform

In 2011 a book chapter of mine appeared entitled "The Economics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Money, Power, and Muslim Communities in Late Imperial Russia." This chapter appeared in an edited volume entitled Asiatic Russia: Imperial Power in Regional and International Contexts.

My chapter is about the issue of Muslim educational reform in late imperial Russia, and the name of the chapter is intended to invoke Adeeb Khalid's innovative and important study, The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform. I talk about the practical implications, especially with respect to financial issues, that cultural reform had for people's lives. During an era of famine, teaching was one of the only sources of income that many in the ulema had available to them. The issue of reform was not only about intellectual debates, but also pertained to tangible factors relating to money, administration, and political power.

Ab Imperio guide to the archives of Eurasia

In February of 2009, an archive guide that I wrote appeared in the 2008/4 issue of the journal Ab Imperio. The guide is called "For the Russianist in Istanbul and the Ottomanist in Russia: A guide to the Archives of Eurasia." The idea for the guide arose in the aftermath of a workshop Sean Pollock organized during the course of our year-long Russia and Islam project at Columbia University's Harriman Institute (2007-2008). Sean asked me to write a piece on the types of source material that would be useful to a Russianist wishing to research in Istanbul.

Frankly, there isn't much that someone unschooled in Ottoman paleography could get out of the Ottoman archives. However, there are certain French-language documents in the Ottoman archives, particularly in the holdings of the Ottoman Foreign Ministry, which might be useful to a Russianist in Istanbul. And perhaps even more importantly, there are scores of materials that people with Turkic/Arabic/Persian skills would be able to access in the former USSR. So what I tried to do here was provide a kind of road map to people who are trans-imperial curious. For people who have received the technical training of an Orientalist but who are interested in perhaps making a foray into the former USSR, I discuss the holdings of libraries and archives in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Ufa, Simferopol, and Baku. For Russianists who would like to try their hand at managing the French-language materials in the Ottoman archives, I've also provided information which hopefully will prove useful to them.

IJMES Article: Immigration and Return

In February of 2007, the International Journal of Middle East Studies published my article "Immigration, return, and the politics of citizenship: Russian Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, 1870-1914." In this article I use archival sources from the Crimea, Baku, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Istanbul to argue that, most of the time, tsarist authorities not only did not work to expel Muslims from Russia, but rather to the contrary struggled to keep them inside the empire. A second part of the article looks at the phenomenon of Muslims, particularly from the Crimea, returning to Russia and the response to this of tsarist officials. I then look at how the ambiguous "citizenship" ("subjecthood" would have been a better word) of Russian Muslims living in the Ottoman Empire often led to diplomatic tensions between the two states. Ultimately, my goal with this article was to show how states and subjects interacted in stretching the boundaries of subjecthood. When studying international relations, it's important to look not only at the relations between two governments, but also at how the people living in those states related to one another.

Dissertation (Abstract) (Works Cited)

My dissertation is entitled Turkic Worlds: Community Representation and Collective Identity in the Russian and Ottoman Empires, 1870-1914. Originally, I had approached this work from the perspective of late Ottoman intellectual history, and thought that I would devote just a cursory chapter to the pre-Istanbul careers of the well-known "pan-Turkist" intellectuals Yusuf Akçura, Ahmet Ağaoğlu, Ismail Gasprinskii, Ali Bey Hüseyinzade, and Mehmet Emin Resulzade--as well as anyone else I could find who seemed to fit in with this group. Ultimately, however, five of my dissertation's six chapters would take place in Russia. Rather than only focusing upon these figures as intellectuals, or "theoreticians" of nationalism, I sought to investigate their political (in terms of mass politics) activity in Russia, and the ways in which these activities related to their public articulations of various types of collective identity.

Over the course of three research trips in Russia, as well as other research trips to Azerbaijan, the Crimea, and Istanbul, my approach to this work began to change. Rather than focusing only upon these well-known figures, I became more interested in political movements more generally, and their relations with the communities they strove to represent.

Looking at two provinces, Kazan and Baku, from the years immediately following the Great Reforms until the beginning of World War I, I examine the institutions and individuals responsible for mediating between the state and Muslim communities with respect to a variety of issues which were increasingly seen (by both the state and Muslim populations) as important to the Muslim communities of the two regions. I then look at how systems and practices of speaking in the community's name vis-a-vis state officials were upended by the Revolution of 1905 and the emergence of mass politics. After 1905, I examine divisions taking place over the question of who, if anyone, should speak in the name of Muslim communities, and at political coalitions which took place between Muslim and non-Muslim groupings. My study ends with an examination of how these developments contributed to the emergence of the Turkist (or "Pan-Turkist") movement in the Ottoman Empire.

Based upon research undertaken in archives and libraries in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Ufa, Simferopol, Baku, and Istanbul, this study employs a broad base of printed and handwritten sources in a variety of languages, including, among others, Russian, Arabic-script Tatar, Azeri Turkish, and Ottoman Turkish.

Master's thesis: the return of Adnan Menderes

My MA thesis at Princeton was entitled "Memory and Political Symbolism in Post-September 12 Turkey: A History of the May 27th Debate." The "September 12" in question refers to the military takeover of 1980, and "May 27th" refers to the military takeover of 1960, which prior to the 1980s had often been considered a "good" coup. I look at the political rehabilitation of Adnan Menderes--who was overthrown in 1960--and at how opinions towards the "good" coup changed after the takeover of 1980 (which was particularly brutal), and--by extension--at the changing attitudes in Turkey regarding the military's role in politics.

Newspaper/journal articles published prior to graduate school

When I was living in Turkey from 1992-1999 I published a number of opinion pieces in newspapers and journals, mostly about current events in Turkey. They're not bad, although some parts of these articles make me cringe today.

  1. “Turks Smell a Rat as Amnesty Quake Rocks Country”. New Europe, September 13-19, 1999.
  2. Çiller, Refah and Susurluk: Turkey’s Troubled Democracy.” East European Quarterly, XXXII, No. 4, Winter, 1998.
  3. “The Macedonian Enigma.” South Slav Journal, Volume 19, Spring-Summer 1998.
  4. Çiller’s Scandals.” Middle Eastern Quarterly, Volume IV, Number 3, September 1997.
  5. Turkey, Greece and NATO’s Integrating Influence.” Turkish Daily News, August 5, 1997.
  6. “Noisy Nights in Turkey as Opposition Grows Louder.” New Europe, March 16-22, 1997.
  7. “Interpreting Turkey’s Elections.” New Europe, January 14-20, 1996.
  8. “The Screaming Man of Istiklal.” Balkan News (Athens, Greece), July 14, 1995.