Baki Tezcan

Baki Tezcan's photo

Position Title
Professor of History

3222 SSH

Research Interest(s):

  • the transformation of Islam in the Ottoman public sphere from the late thirteenth to the early twentieth century
  • Ottoman socio-political history in the early modern era (16th-18th centuries)
  • Islamic law
  • the intellectual tradition of Islam with a special emphasis on the relationship between politics, on the one hand, and philosophy and science, on the other
  • pre-modern ethnic and racial identities in the Islamic world
  • Ottoman perceptions of others
  • Ottoman and modern Turkish historiography
  • fiscal and monetary history

Course(s) Taught:

  • RST 1A - Topics in Comparative Religion: Pilgrimage
  • RST 10 - Contemporary Ethical Issues: The Ethics of Religion in Politics
  • RST 60 – Introduction to Islam
  • RST 65C – The Qur’an and its Interpretation
  • RST 160 - Introduction to Islamic Thought
  • RST 162 - Introduction to Islamic Law
  • RST 199 – Special Study (on such topics as contemporary American Muslim women)
  • HIS 6 – Introduction to the Middle East
  • HIS 10B – World History, c. 1350-1850
  • HIS 80 - US in the Middle East (co-taught with Prof. Oropeza)
  • HIS 110 - Themes in World History: Race and Color in the pre-modern Islamic World
  • HIS 190C – Middle Eastern History III: The Ottomans, 1401-1730
  • HIS 102R – Undergraduate Proseminar in the History of Muslim Societies: Modern Turkey
  • HIS 102X – Undergraduate Proseminar in Comparative History: Holy War in Comparative Perspective
  • HIS 104B-C – Honors Thesis (on such topics as the Armenian Genocide and British Imperialism in Arabia)
  • HIS 199 - Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates (on such topics as male sexuality in the pre-modern Ottoman world)
  • HIS 201M - Seminar in Ottoman History, ca. 1300-1800 
  • HIS 201W – Advanced Topics in World History: Race and Color across Time and Space
  • HIS 204 - Historiography
  • HIS 299 – Reading Course (on various topics related to late medieval and early modern Middle Eastern history, as well as reading courses in academic Turkish)
  • MSA 100 – Middle East and South Asia: Comparative Perspectives
  • MST 20C - The Late Medieval and Early Modern Period


Tezcan is a graduate of Istanbul Lisesi. He got his B.S. in International Relations from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey (1994), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University (1996, 2001).

He joined the History Department in 2002 (until 2015, he held a joint appointment in Religious Studies and taught in both departments). He was one of the founders of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program (ME/SA), which he directed from 2012 to 2015. In addition to History and Religious Studies, he also taught for ME/SA and Medieval and Early Modern Studies programs, and led the "Last Empire of Islam" Summer Abroad Program in Istanbul in 2007, 2009, and 2011 (for photographs from these summers, see the Facebook group "Baki's Bottle," named after the water bottle Tezcan held up while leading his students in tourist crowds). His advising work in multiple academic units brought him the UC Davis Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award in 2005.

Tezcan held an American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) postdoctoral fellowship funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2001-02. He was a Society for the Humanities fellow at Cornell University in 2005-06. In 2011-12, he was a TÜBİTAK fellow at Istanbul Şehir University. For 2018-19, he was awarded a fellowship by the NEH.

He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Ottoman Studies and the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, and the President of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (OTSA). He also served in the editorial board of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, was a delegate at large in ARIT, an executive board member of OTSA, and an associate member of the Institute of Turkish Studies. He is one of the co-founders of the Western Ottomanists' Workshop (WOW) and GIT - North America, and an occasional contributor (in Turkish) to Bianet and (in English) to Jadaliyya.

Tezcan's most recent public lecture was "The Emasculated Guardians of Power: Black Eunuchs and the Interplay Between Gender and Race at the Ottoman Imperial Court" at Northwestern University's Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program.

Selected Publications:

Book and co-edited volumes


Co-edited with Karl K. BarbirIdentity and Identity Formation in the Ottoman World: A Volume of Essays in Honor of Norman Itzkowitz. Madison: University of Wisconsin, Center for Turkish Studies, 2007.


The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010 (paperback in 2012).


** Turkish translation of Identity and Identity Formation in the Ottoman WorldOsmanlı Dünyasında Kimlik ve Kimlik Oluşumu: Norman Itzkowitz Armağanı. Translated by Dr. Zeynep Nevin Yelçe. Istanbul: İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2012.


Co-edited with Gottfried HagenOther Places: Ottomans traveling, seeing, writing, drawing the world: Essays in honor of Thomas D. Goodrich (Parts I & II)A special double issue [39-40(2012)] of the Journal of Ottoman Studies / Osmanlı Araştırmaları.


Co-edited with the late Donald QuataertBeyond Dominant Paradigms in Ottoman and Middle Eastern/North African Studies: A Tribute to Rifa'at Abou-El-Haj.Istanbul: ISAM, 2010.


** Turkish translation of BeyondDominant ParadigmsHakim Paradigmaların Ötesinde: Rifa'at Abou-El-Haj'a Armağan. Translated by Aytek  Sever. Ankara: Tan Kitabevi Yayınları, 2012.

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Co-edited with Selim KuruJournal of Turkish Studies Türklük Bilgisi Araştırmaları 39-40 (2013): Defterology: Festschrift in Honor of Heath Lowry.

Recent articles (published in the last five years)

(for articles published before 2015, see

The Disenchantment of Sufism, the Rationalization of Sunni Islam, and Early Modernity," Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 7/1 (Spring 2020) [Chasing the Ottoman Early Modern, eds. Virginia H. Aksan, Boğaç A. Ergene, and Antonis Hadjikyriacou]: 67-69.

“The Law School of Mehmed II in the last quarter of the sixteenth century: A glass ceiling for the less connected Ottoman ulema.” In Ottoman War and Peace: Studies in Honor of Virginia H. Aksan, edited by Frank Castiglione, Ethan L. Menchinger, and Veysel Şimşek, pp. 237-82. Leiden: Brill, 2019.

“Laikliğin 'Yerli ve Milli' Tarihine Medhal: İslam Kültürel ve Siyasi Tarihi Çerçevesinde Din ve Dünyevilik Üzerine Düşünceler [An Introduction to the 'Local and National' History of Secularism: Thoughts on Religion and 'Secularity' in the Context of the Cultural and Political History of Islam; in Turkish].” Cogito 94 (Summer 2019): 58-76.

“The Portrait of the Preacher as a Young Man: Two autobiographical letters by Kadızade Mehmed from the early seventeenth century.” In Political Thought and Practice in the Ottoman Empire: Halcyon days in Crete IX – A symposium held in Rethymno, 9-11 January 2015, edited by Marinos Sariyannis, pp. 187-249. Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2019. 

“Dispelling the Darkness of the Halberdier’s Treatise: A Comparative Look at Black Africans in Ottoman Letters in the Early Modern Period.” In Disliking Others: Alterophobia in Pre-Modern Ottoman Lands, edited by Helga Anetshofer, Erdem Çıpa, and Hakan Karateke, pp. 43-74. Brighton: Academic Studies Press, 2018.

“Etnisite, Irk, Din ve Toplumsal Sınıf: Osmanlı Fark İşaretleyicileri.” In Osmanlı Dünyası, edited by Christine Woodhead, translated by Gül Çağalı Güven, pp. 215-28. Istanbul: Alfa, 2018 [uncontrolled Turkish translation of “Ethnicity, Race, Religion and Social Class: Ottoman Markers of Difference,” in The Ottoman World, ed. Christine Woodhead (London: Routlede, 2011), pp. 159-70].

“From Veysî (d. 1628) to Üveysî (fl. ca. 1630): Ottoman Advice Literature and Its Discontents.” In Reforming Early Modern Monarchies: The Castilian Arbitristas in Comparative European Perspectives [Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, vol. 143], edited by Sina Rauschenbach and Christian Windler, pp. 141-156. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016.

“Muslihiddin Lari (d. 1572): The Fate of an Immigrant Polymath in the Sixteenth Century Ottoman Empire.” In History From Below: A Tribute in Memory of Donald Quataert, eds. Selim Karahasanoğlu and Deniz Cenk Demir, pp. 615-28. Istanbul: İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2016.

Current Projects:

Currently, Tezcan is finishing several articles, going over the translation of some of his work into Turkish, and writing a book on the transformation of Islam in the Ottoman Empire from the late medieval period to the modern age.