The Sykes–Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement

The Sykes–Picot Agreement was a secret treaty between the United Kingdom and France, with assent from the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy, to define their mutually agreed spheres of influence and control of the Middle East in an eventual partition of the Ottoman Empire. Source: "A Map of Turkey in Asia," National Archives, London [FO 608/96].

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"What is the Dersim Issue?"
"What is the Dersim Issue?"

Turkish newspaper Kurun asking "What is Dersim Issue?" in 1937. "Dersim issue" occupied Turkish media almost on a daily basis in 1930s, but it disappeared from the public space after the Turkish army's violent transformation of the region in 1937-38. Here, the newspaper editors are asking "What is the Dersim issues?" in the midst of the genocidal operations that were underway at the time of this publication.

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The Sykes–Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement

The Sykes–Picot Agreement was a secret treaty between the United Kingdom and France, with assent from the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy, to define their mutually agreed spheres of influence and control of the Middle East in an eventual partition of the Ottoman Empire. Source: "A Map of Turkey in Asia," National Archives, London [FO 608/96].

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I work on theories of religion, state, and empire with thematic interests in nationalism, colonialism, Islamic political thought, and environmental history. I examine state making and state evasion policies and practices across indirect imperial and centralized nation-state regimes through the lenses of environmental history. My research is principally invested in historical methodology and archival research, but it also exhibits an interdisciplinary and comparative line of argumentation. My scholarship is primarily concerned with the conjunctures and contingencies that gave rise to modern state-making policies at the intersection of religion, ethnicity, and environment during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Middle East. I combine a theoretical focus on the processes of state formation and nation building with in-depth knowledge of the histories of ethnic and religious groups such as the Kurds, Alevis , and Armenians, among others.

In my current work around this topic, I employ the theory of internal colonialism in state making across regime changes and revolutions through the case of Dersim, a region in Eastern Anatolia with a rich and diverse natural environment and a predominantly Alevi Kurdish population, thereby challenging official narratives and conventional historiographies that treat such historical junctures as radical ruptures with the past. I draw on multiple historiographies, engage with the debates around conflicts and cooperation among various ethnic and religious entities, and put these discussions in conversations with one another at the local, regional and transregional contexts. I theorize late imperial Ottoman and early republican Turkish policies in Dersim by highlighting the role that Dersim’s topography and natural environment played in shaping the histories of its inhabitants. I have undertaken several publication projects based on this research, including two book chapters, two journal articles, and a book manuscript with the working title Mountains and the Modern State, which target an academic audience in multiple disciplines, including but not limited to historians, political scientists, and anthropologists, and a large interdisciplinary audience in area studies.

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