Alan Mikhail

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Alan Mikhail (born 1979) is an American historian who is a professor of history at Yale University.[1] His work centers on the history of the Ottoman Empire.

Education and career

Mikhail graduated in History and Chemistry from Rice University in 2001, and received his MA in history from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003.[2] His PhD was conferred from the same university in 2008. His thesis The Nature of Ottoman Egypt: Irrigation, Environment, and Bureaucracy in the Long Eighteenth Century was awarded the Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences (2009) by Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA).[2]

He served as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University for two years, before becoming an assistant professor of history at Yale University in 2010.[2] In 2013, he was promoted to full professor and became department chair in 2018.[2]



His first monograph, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt (2011), was a part of the Cambridge University Press series Studies in Environment and History.[3] Based on his doctoral dissertation, the book argues for using an environmental lens to understand relations between the Ottoman Empire and the province of Egypt.[4] It received a positive reception[5][6] and won the Roger Owen Book Award from MESA for the best book in a two-year period in economics, economic history, or the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa.[7]

The Animal in Ottoman Egypt, published in 2014 by Oxford University Press, examines Egypt's changing place in the Ottoman Empire and world economy from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries through the lens of human-animal relations.[8] Scholarly reception was mixed.[9] It received the Gustav Ranis International Book Prize, awarded for the best book on an international topic by a Yale ladder faculty member.[10]

Under Osman's Tree, published by University of Chicago Press in 2017, received critical acclaim[11] and was awarded the M. Fuat Köprülü Book Prize of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association.[12]

God's Shadow

God's Shadow was published by Liveright (an imprint of the trade publisher W. W. Norton) in August, 2020. The book argues for the central place of the Ottoman Empire in world history using the life and times of Selim I. The book garnered mostly positive reviews in newspapers.[13]

In contrast, scholarly reception was very poor. Caroline Finkel, an Ottoman historian, characterized its assertions as "overblown".[14] Cornell Fleischer, Cemal Kafadar and Sanjay Subrahmanyam identified a multitude of factual and interpretation errors, and went on to describe the work as "tissue of falsehoods, half-truths and absurd speculations".[15][16] A month later, they penned a rejoinder—in response to a reply-article by Efe Khayyat and Ariel Salzmann, where their motives were questioned[17]—which expanded on the list of Mikhail's factual errors, misrepresentations, and unorthodox scholarly practices, such as a reliance on Wikipedia articles;[18] this was soon translated into Turkish.[19] Abdürrahim Özer of Bilkent University had identified a long list of factual errors and misinterpretations in the book.[18][20][21] Ali Balci found the work to be not pioneering, as claimed — it contained "some excessive comments for the sake of making Selim a part of the global history."[22]

Edited collections

Water on Sand: Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa, published by Oxford University Press in 2013, was met with positive reviews.[23]


In 2018, he received the Anneliese Maier Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.[24]


  1. ^ "Anneliese Maier Research Award 2018 - The Award Winners". (in German).
  2. ^ a b c d Mikhail, Alan (2017). "Alan Mikhail CV" (PDF).
  3. ^ Mikhail, Alan (2011). Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History. Studies in Environment and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-00876-2.
  4. ^ "Middle East Studies Association - Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards - Alan Mikhail". Middle East Studies Association. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Butzer, Karl W. (2012). "NATURE AND EMPIRE IN OTTOMAN EGYPT: An Environmental History. By Alan Mikhail". Geographical Review. 102 (3): 392–393. doi:10.1111/j.1931-0846.2012.00161.x. ISSN 1931-0846. S2CID 162890954.
  6. ^ Borsch, Stuart (February 25, 2012). "Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History (review)". The Middle East Journal. 66 (1): 172–173. ISSN 1940-3461.
  7. ^ "Middle East Studies Association - Roger Owen Book Award - Alan Mikhail". Middle East Studies Association. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  8. ^ The Animal in Ottoman Egypt. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. December 1, 2016. ISBN 978-0-19-065522-8.
  9. ^ For individual reviews, consult:

  10. ^ "The MacMillan Center International Book Prizes". The MacMillan Center. May 29, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  11. ^ For individual reviews, consult:

  12. ^ Under Osman's Tree.
  13. ^ Consult:

  14. ^ "Caroline Finkel - Master of the Universe?". Literary Review. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  15. ^ "How to Write Fake Global History| Cromohs - Cyber Review of Modern Historiography". 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "Fake global history in the age of fake news". Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  17. ^ boundary2 (October 1, 2020). "Efe Khayyat and Ariel Salzmann — On the Perils of Thinking Globally while Writing Ottoman History: God's Shadow and Academia's Self-Appointed Sultans". boundary 2. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Romancing "American Selim" - K24". T24 (in Turkish). Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  19. ^ ""Amerikalı Selim" sevdası - K24". T24 (in Turkish). Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  20. ^ Ozer, Abdurrahim. "Tweet-review of Alan Mikhail's book, God's Shadow". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Butler, John (October 7, 2020). ""God's Shadow: Sultan Selim I, his Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World" by Alan Mikhail". Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  22. ^ Balci, Ali (July 13, 2021). "Bringing the Ottoman Order Back into International Relations: A Distinct International Order or Part of an Islamic International Society?". International Studies Review (viab031). doi:10.1093/isr/viab031. ISSN 1521-9488.
  23. ^ For individual reviews, consult:

  24. ^ "Alan Mikhail honored for work on environmental history".

External links