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Cevat Dargın, PhD

Postgraduate Research Associate 

I am a Postgraduate Research Associate affiliated with the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. My field of research and teaching is modern Middle Eastern and North African history, with a specialization in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century transformations from empires to nation-states and their impact on borderlands and peoples in the peripheries.

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2015 - 2021

Princeton University

Department of Near Eastern Studies, PhD

2012 - 2014

New York University

Department of Near Eastern Studies, MA

2010 - 2012

Brooklyn College, CUNY

Department of Political Science, MA

2001 - 2007

Boğaziçi University

Department of Political Science and International Relations, BA

Background map illustrating "Armenia, Kurdistan and Upper Mesopotamia" by J.G. Taylor, the British "Consul for Kurdistan" circa 1866

Newspaper clipping from Turkish newspaper Kurun asking "What is the Dersim issue?" above a map of the region in which the new name of the province, Tunceli, is used along with Dersim (1937).

Research & Teaching Areas

Modern Middle Eastern and North African history and politics
Historical continuity, state (trans)formation, nation building, colonialism, and empire
Indigenous, minority, and environmental histories
Islamic political thought
World history

Research Interests

I work on theories of state making, empire, and nationalism with thematic interests in colonialism, Islamic political thought, and environmental history within and across the Greater Middle East. My current work deals with policies and processes of modern state making in the late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Middle East. Whereas the dominant narrative in conventional historiography treats this conjuncture as a radical rupture with the past, my research demonstrates a historical continuity in state making that transcended regime changes in the region before, during, and after World War I.

In my PhD dissertation, I explored late Ottoman and early republican Turkish state making policies and practices through the peripheral and local context of Dersim, an Alevi (Kizilbash) Kurdish–majority region in Eastern Anatolia, and the reactions of Dersimis to such policies and practices imagined and designed at the state center in different historical periods: Hamidian (1876–1908), Young Turk (1908–1923), and Early Republican (1923–1938). Tracing historical developments in a place such as Dersim, a terra incognita "in the heart of Anatolia" as several Ottoman and Turkish state authorities remarked, a peripheral domain vis-a-vis the state center despite being far from any of Turkey's borders, and a region whose demographic and geographical peculiarities kept it both in and out of the larger contexts around it, my research analytically and methodologically enhances the growing literature on the subject of historical continuity, which is built largely on state and commercial centers. 

Focused on a region at the intersection of Turkic, Arab, and Persianate worlds, my research contributes to diversity in multiple subfields and in the study of the Muslim world at large. My work is primarily invested in historical methodology and archival research, but it also exhibits an interdisciplinary line of argumentation.


Book Manuscript, in preparation

A History of Modern State-Making in The Middle East: The Case of Dersim across Empire and Nation-State (1877–1938), to be submitted to Cambridge University Press.

Journal Article, under review

“‘A Stylish Death’ and ‘The Black-Box of the Republican State’: Seyid Riza (1863–1937) and the Politics of Remembering Dersim in Contemporary Turkey,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 

Book Chapter, forthcoming

“‘A Legend of Banditry’ across Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey: Koçan (Koçuşağı) Tribe (1890–1938)” in “Gayri Eşkiyaya Çıkar Adımız”: Geç Osmanlı’dan Cumhuriyet’e Eşkıyalık, Şekavet, İsyan edited by Yalçın Çakmak and Ahmet Özcan. [Turkish: Osmanlı'dan Cumhuriyet'e bir “Eşkıyalık Efsanesi”: Koçan (Koçuşağı) Aşireti (1890–1938)]