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Research

I am a historian of the early modern and modern Middle East and Ottoman Empire, with emphasis on the history of Jews in the Ottoman Empire and social and environmental history.  Broadly speaking, my research interests include social, environmental, and intellectual history; Jews under Islamic rule; and the history of reading and literacy.  My book, Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire: Plague, Famine, and Other Misfortunes was published with Cambridge University Press in late 2014 (info from Cambridge / info from Amazon.com).  It explores how people in the eastern Mediterranean dealt with various calamities from medieval times to the twentieth century.  Its most significant conclusion is that religious boundaries were far less significant in Ottoman society than we used to think. The book is only partly based on my Ph.D. dissertation from Princeton, and is the first of two studies, the second of which will be a new social history of Ottoman Jewry. Many of the ideas for the second book were inspired by my work as an editor for the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World.  They include a reevaluation of some of the existing scholarship on Ottoman Jewry (including even some basic historical “facts”that, so it appears, were not facts after all),  which I believe requires an update; and discussions on such issues as leadership, reading and scholarship, poor relief, and inter-communal relations.

As of April 2017, I am about to complete work on the 5th out of 5 chapters, but much work still remains before the manuscript is ready.

For more info about my other publications, see my profile on Academia.edu

Articles not listed on Academia.edu (partial list):

“When Nomads Met Urbanites: The Outskirts of Ottoman Cities in Light of Natural Disasters”in: Plagues in Nomadic Contexts ed. Kurt Franz (Leiden:Brill, forthcoming in 2015).

A translation of Rabbi Solomon Laniado’s “Kise Shlomoh” in: Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History,1700-1950 eds.  Julia Phillips Cohen and Sarah Abrevaya Stein (Stanford,CA:Stanford University Press, 2014), 387-90.

“Jews in the Ottoman Empire”in: The Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism ed.  Alan Levenson (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 309-24.

“The Middle East” in: Understanding the Global Community eds.  Zach Messitte and Suzette Grillot  (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press,  2013), 196-224.

“Aleppo: Medieval Period,” “Baghdad: Medieval Period,” “Bucharest,” “Comtino, Rabbi Mordecai ben Eliezer,” “Greece,” “Laniado Family,” “Luria, Isaac,” “Kamishli,” and “Jacob Berab” in: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World ed. Norman Stillman (Leiden: Brill, 2010).

“Ha-No‘ar ha-‘Oved Youth Movement: is ‘Our Home (Still) Open to Every Youth’?” in: The Cooperative Groups in Israel ed. Yuval Dror  (Tel Aviv: Yad Tabenkin, 2008; in Hebrew), 326-75.

“Individualistic or Caring? The Jewish Communities of Damascus and Aleppo in the 17th and 18th Centuries” in: Syrian Jewry – History, Identity, and Heritage ed. Yaron Har’el (forthcoming; in Hebrew).