Kafadar graduated from Robert College, and received his PhD from the McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies in 1987 and taught for two years in Princeton's Near Eastern studies department before going to Harvard. Kafadar teaches seminars related to popular culture, hagiography and Ottoman historiography as well as the early modern history of the Middle East and Balkans, and is a member of the editorial board of the Historians of the Ottoman Empire. He is a leading documentary critic and was a member of the jury of the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival in 2009.
- Kim Var İmiş Biz Burada Yoğ İken Dört Osmanlı: Yeniçeri, Tüccar, Derviş ve Hatun (2009)
- "The Question of Ottoman Decline" in Harvard Middle East and Islamic Review (1999)
- Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. University of California Press. 1995. ISBN 978-0-520-20600-7.
- Suleiman the Second and His Time edited with Halil İnalcık (1993)
- "Self and Others: The Diary of a Dervish in Seventeenth Century Istanbul and First-Person Narratives in Ottoman Literature" in Studia Islamica (1989)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2009-11-05.