Michael Talbot

Dr Michael Talbot MA, MA, PhD

Michael Talbot

Dr Michael Talbot

Senior Lecturer

Department of History, Politics and Social Sciences

Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Humanities

Michael joined the Department of History, Politics & Social Sciences in September 2015. He studied history as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, before undertaking an MA in Near & Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he also completed his PhD in Ottoman-British relations in the eighteenth century. He was a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC-funded 'Mediterranean Reconfigurations' project at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he examined intercultural trade and commercial litigation in Ottoman Algiers.

Michael's work examines a number of topics in Ottoman history from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century, with a general interest in Ottoman relations and interactions with the wider world. His research to date has examined Ottoman-British relations (17th-19th centuries), Ottoman maritime law and practice (18th century), and Ottoman urban history (particularly Istanbul and Palestine). As an active participant in the Ottoman History Podcast network, he is committed to bringing Ottoman history to a wider audience.

Developing projects include Ottoman urban history, particularly littoral spaces such as in northern Palestine and Istanbul, and other projects relating to late Ottoman Palestine, including refugees and Ottomanism. He has begun a number of studies in various stages of research looking at later Ottoman history using the prism of the body. Above all, Michael is deeply interested in Ottoman relations and interactions with the wider world, links between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the question of what made something (or someone) Ottoman. He welcomes enquiries from prospective students interested in any of the above areas.

See more about the University History Research Group here.

Senior Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East


HIST1062 Europe and the Revolutions, 1789-1914 (Level 4)

HIST1067 Empire and Nation in the Middle East (Level 5)

HIST1074 Cities of the Sultans: Life in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Level 6)

Administration and academic citizenship

HPSS Admissions, taster days, and outreach. Please contact me if you would to discuss organising a taster session with your school or college!

HPSS Website and communications

History Research Group

Greenwich Maritime Centre

-Postdoctoral research at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne on 'Mediterranean Reconfigurations' project (ConfigMed – ERC Advanced Grant No. 295868) (2014-2015)

-Specialist translator in the British Academy-funded project, 'Islam, Trade, and Politics Across the Indian Ocean' (2013-2014)

-University of St Andrews conference organisation grant (2014)

-SOAS research travel grant contributing to fieldwork in Istanbul (2011)

-Gurnee Hart Scholarship funding fieldwork in Israel and Palestine (2006)

Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Michael's research covers a number of areas of Ottoman history from the late seventeenth century until the end of empire. Stemming from his doctoral research, Michael's primary research to-date has been in Ottoman-British diplomatic and commercial relations in the 18th century, examining the relationship between commerce, finance, and diplomatic practice through both British and Ottoman sources in English, Ottoman Turkish, and Italian. Linked to his interests in diplomacy and commerce, he has investigated Ottoman maritime law and practice, particularly Ottoman responses to European maritime violence in the Mediterranean in the eighteenth century. Something of a combination of the two, his postdoctoral research examined maritime legal space in Ottoman Algiers, and Algerian litigants in European commercial and admiralty courts, using documents in English, French, Italian, Arabic, and Ottoman Turkish from archives in Britain, France, Italy, and Turkey. He has also been involved in a major British Academy project examining Ottoman relations with Southeast Asia between the 16th and 20th centuries, translating large numbers of Ottoman archival documents relating to Ottoman commercial, political, and religious interests in the region for publication.

Developing projects include Ottoman maritime history, particularly thinking about the significance of littoral spaces and imperial control, and other projects relating to late Ottoman Palestine, including refugees and Ottomanism.  He has begun a number of studies in various stages of research looking at later Ottoman history using the prism of the body, and is working on a major project on Ottoman consular networks. Above all, Michael is deeply interested in Ottoman relations and interactions with the wider world, links between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the question of what made something (or someone) Ottoman, Ottoman.

Michael can supervise doctoral research on a range of Ottoman and Middle Eastern history topics, but is particularly interested in supervising students examining Ottoman diplomacy, maritime activities, networks, and attitudes, urban themes and identities, and Palestine in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman periods.


British-Ottoman Relations, 1661-1807: Commerce and Diplomatic Practice in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2017.

Journal articles

'Separating the Waters from the Sea: The Place of Islands in Ottoman Maritime Territoriality during the Eighteenth Century', Princeton Papers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 18 (2017), 61-86.

'Protecting the Mediterranean: Ottoman Responses to Maritime Violence, 1718-1770', Journal of Early Modern History 21:4 (2017), 283-317.

'When Proof Is Not Enough: An Ottoman Merchant in the Gibraltar Vice-Admiralty Court in the 1760s, Quaderni Storici 51:3 (2016), 753-776

'Gifts of time: Watches and Clocks in British-Ottoman Diplomacy, 1693-1803', Jahrbuch für Europäische Geschichte 17 (2016), 55-79

'"Jews, be Ottomans!" Zionism, Ottomanism and Ottomanisation in the Hebrew Press, 1890-1914', Die Welt des Islams 56:3/4 (2016), 359-387

'Introduction: Contacts, Encounters, Practices: Ottoman-European Diplomacy, 1500-1800', Osmanlı Araştırmaları / The Journal of Ottoman Studies 48 (2016), 269-276 (co-written with Phil McCluskey, introduction to special edition on Ottoman-European diplomacy)

'A Treaty of Narratives: Friendship, Gifts, and Diplomatic History in the British Capitulations of 1641', Osmanlı Araştırmaları / The Journal of Ottoman Studies 48 (2016), 357-398.

'Petitions of the Supplicant Ambassador: British Commercial Representations to the Ottoman State in the Eighteenth Century', Osmanlı Araştırmaları / The Journal of Ottoman Studies 46 (2015), 163-191

'The Exalted Column, the Hejaz Railway, and Imperial Legitimation in Late Ottoman Haifa', Urban History 42:2 (2015), 246-272

Book chapters

'İngiliz Whig Tarihçiliği ve Thomas Carlyle' [British Whig History and Thomas Carlyle] in Ahmet Şimşek (ed.), Dünyada Tarihçilik: Dönemler, Okullar, Yaklaşımlar ve Tarihçiler [World Historiography: Periods, Schools, Approaches, and Historians] (Ankara: Pegem Akademi, 2017), 125-136.

'Accessing the Shadow of God: Spatial and Performative Ceremonial at the Ottoman Court' in Dries Raeymaekers & Sebastiaan Derks (eds.), The Key to Power? The Culture of Access in Princely Courts, 1400-1750 (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 101-123.

'Tarihçi gibi Araştırmak: Tarih Araştırmasına Başlamak' [Researching like a Historian: Starting Historical Research] in Ahmet Şimşek (ed.), Tarih için Metodoloji [Methodology for History] (Ankara: Pegem Akademi, 2015), 216-220.

'Ottoman Seas and British Privateers: Defining Maritime Territoriality in the Eighteenth-Century Levant' in Pascal W. Firges, Tobias P. Graf, Christian Roth & Gülay Tulasoğlu (eds.), Well-Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 54-70.

'Divine Imperialism: The British in Palestine, 1753-1842' in Martin Farr & Xavier Guégan (eds.), The British Abroad Since the Eighteenth Century. Volume 2: Experiencing Imperialism (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 36-53.

Podcasts and Blogposts

Ottoman History Podcast (www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com)

'Izmir and Thessaloniki: From Empire to Nation State [please add this hyperlink: Izmir & Thessaloniki: from Empire to Nation-State ]' (2017, interview with Kalliopi Amygdalou) 

'Visual Sources in Late Ottoman History [please add this hyperlink: http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2017/07/columbia-visual.html ] ' (2017, collaborative podcast from a conference at Columbia University). 

'Ottoman-Japanese Relations: A Short History of the Ertuğrul [please add this hyperlink: http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2017/05/muslim-world.html ] ' (2017, segment from Yokohama, Japan)

'Early French Encounters with the Ottomans [please add this hyperlink: http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2017/05/france-ottomans.html ] ' (2017, interview with Pascale Barthes and Nir Shafir)

'Insularity and Empire in Ottoman Cyprus' (2016, interview with Antonis Hadjikyriacou)

'Nationality and Citizenship in Mandate Palestine' (2016, interview of Lauren Banko)
'Ottoman Encounters with Global Capital' (2016, interview of Coşkun Tuncer with Taylan Güngör)
'German Expatriates in Late Ottoman Istanbul' (2016, interview of Philipp Wirtz with Taylan Güngör)
'British-Ottoman Diplomacy and the Making of Maritime Law' (2015, interviewed by Sam Dolbee, Arianne Urus, and Güneş Işıksel)

Tozsuz Evrak (www.docblog.ottomanhistorypodcast.com)

'An Augur of Bloodshed: The Weeping Mary of Nevrokop in 1902' (2017)
'The New Bureaucracy in Town: An Ottoman Widow in British-Occupied Baghdad, 1918' (2016)
'Ali Naci Goes to Greenwich: The Education of a Late Ottoman Naval Officer' (2015).
'The Ottoman Empire and Cricket: From Istanbul to Cape Town' (2015)
'Hanımefendis Just Wanna Have Fun: An Alcoholic Postcard from Late Ottoman Istanbul' (2014)
'Scottish Muslims and Ottoman Pan-Islamism' (2014)
'A Seventeenth-Century Frenchman's Poem in Ottoman Turkish' (2014)
'Imagining Ottomans in the Early Cinema' (2014)
'Cartoon Critiques of Nineteenth-Century Istanbul' (2013)
'An International Mud-Smuggling Racket in Seventeenth-Century Kağıthane' (2013)
'A Highway to Murder: The Death of a Jaffa Carpenter' (2013)
'Jewish Scriveners and Arab Lawyers in Ottoman Jerusalem' (2013)
'Magic Water and Meat Syrup: Advertising Healthcare Products in the Ottoman Press' (2013)
'Feeding an Elephant in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul' (2013)

Other Blogs

'Insularities and Littoralities Connected: New Trends in Research from the Moray Firth to the Mediterranean' (Firths & Fjords, 2016)
'The Lights of Ahmad: Al-Anwar (al-Jazzar) Mosque in Acre' (Stambouline, 2014)
'Life and Death in an Ottoman Desert Hospital in WWI' (Stambouline, 2013)
'The 'National Archives (United Kingdom) – A Guide to Researching the Middle East' (Hazine, 2013)

Stambouline (www.stambouline.com)

'The Lights of Ahmad': Al-Anwar (al-Jazzar) Mosque in Acre (2014)
'Life and Death in an Ottoman Desert Hospital in WWI' (2013)

HAZİNE (www.hazine.info)

'The National Archives (United Kingdom) – A Guide to Researching the Middle East' (2013)

Browse our publications database

Invited papers

'Cartoons, jokes, and politics in late Ottoman print culture', Ottomans at the Margins: Liberty and Social Life in the 19th Century Empire, London School of Economics, 26 February 2018.

'Narratives of Friendship in the Ottoman-British Capitulations of 1641', Kolloquium Neuere Forshungen zur Osteuropäischen Geschichte, University of Tübingen, 7 November 2016.

'Constructing maritime space in the Ottoman Mediterranean in the eighteenth century', Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Research Seminar, University of Manchester, 18 October 2016

'Protecting the liquid empire: Approaches to maritime space in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Mediterranean', Middle East History Group Seminar, University of Cambridge, 11 October 2016

'"To protect the coasts from pirate brigands": Ottoman anti-piracy measures in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1718-1770', Greenwich Maritime Research Seminars, Greenwich Maritime Centre/National Maritime Museum, 27 April 2016

'Algerian merchants and European courts in the eighteenth century', Penser la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine (XVIe-XXe Siècle), Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, 3 November 2015

'The idea of "millet" in the late Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey', Between Federalism, Autonomy, and Centralism: Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries, University of St Andrews, 29-30 May 2015.

'Exploring persistence in humour: Cartoons and comic dialogues in the late Ottoman Empire', Victorian Persistence: Text, Image, Theory, Université Paris Diderot, 25 March 2015.

'Ottoman, North Africans, and Europeans at sea: Exploring maritime legal practices in the early modern Mediterranean', Near & Middle East History Seminar, SOAS, 6 October 2014.

'Presents and petitions: The daily practices of diplomacy of British diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century', Seminar of the Programme in Ottoman and Turkish Studies, Tel Aviv University, 2 January 2014.

'"So ancient and general a custom": Commercial interest and cultural convention in eighteenth-century British-Ottoman gift exchange', Early Modern European History Seminar, University of Cambridge, 17 October 2013.

'Quantifying and explaining diplomatic gifts: The case of British-Ottoman relations in the long eighteenth century', History of Design Research, Victoria & Albert Museum / Royal College of Arts, 24 January 2013.

'British diplomatic gift-giving in the Ottoman Empire, 1693-1807', Near & Middle East History Seminar, SOAS, 26 April 2010.

Outside the UK

'The Rhetoric of Mediation in the Ottoman Empire in the mid-eighteenth century', Conflict Management in Modern Diplomacy, 1500-1914, University of Vienna, 8-10 February 2018

'Passports for Refugees: Algerians in Palestine in the 1890s', American Historical Association Annual Conference, Washington DC, 4-7 January 2018.

'Gifts and Sociability in Ottoman-British Relations in the Eighteenth Century', Politics and Sociability in a Transcultural Context: The Diplomatic Milieu in Istanbul during the Long Eighteenth Century, German Institute, Paris, 17 November 2017

'Provisioning the Guardians of the Sea: Naval Logistics and the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Mediterranean Fleet', Das Meer: Maritime Welten in der Frühe Neuzeit / The Sea: Maritime Worlds in the Early Modern Period, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, 5-7 October 2017

'Resistance, equality, civilisation: Ottoman imperialism and anti-imperialism in Southeast Asia in the later nineteenth century', In-Between Empires: Trans-Imperial History in a Global Age, Freie Universität, Berlin, 15-16 September 2017

'"And the military band spread joy through their music": A photographic microhistory of a late- Ottoman Jerusalemite crowd', Visual Sources in Late Ottoman History, Columbia University, New York, 20 April 2017. 

'Ottoman views of European empire in Southeast Asia', Ottoman History in a Global Context, 1400-1800, European University Institute, Florence, 10 February 2017. 

'Negotiators, not diplomats: Ambassadors and the notion of friendship in Ottoman-British relations', Towards a Transcultural History of Diplomacy, Institute for Advances Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, 9-11 December 2016. 

'Protecting the Mediterranean: Ottoman legal and naval responses to maritime violence in the eighteenth-century', Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference, Boston, 17-20 November 2016. 

'Separating the waters from the sea: The place of islands in Ottoman maritime territoriality in the eighteenth century', Insularities Connected: Bridging Seascapes from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and Beyond, Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Rethymno, 10-12 June 2016

'Gift-giving in British-Ottoman diplomacy in the long eighteenth century', Rethinking Early Modern Europe in a Global Perspective, University of Heidelberg, 17-19 September 2015.

'When no proof is good enough: An Algerian merchant in British and Dutch courts, 1760s-1770s', Eléments de prevue et litiges commerciaux en Méditerranée (XVe-XIXe siècles) / Elements of Proof and Commercial Litigations in the Mediterranean (15th-19th century), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 18-20 June 2015.

'A reassessment of Algerian diplomacy with Britain, France, and Tuscany, 16th to 18th centuries', Splendid Encounters III, European University Institute, Florence, 5-6 March 2015.

'"Ill-treated by friends": Ottoman responses to British privateering in the mid-eighteenth century', Corsairs & Pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean, 15th-19th century (conference of the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation), Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, 17-19 October 2014.

'The mechanics of commerce and diplomacy: British-Ottoman relations in the eighteenth century', Forme(s) de la diplomatie / Forms of Diplomacy, Université Toulouse 2 Jean-Jaurès, 12-13 June 2014

'Shifting centres: The political and topographical transformations of Ottoman Haifa, 1700-1900', Persistent Spaces: Aesthetics and Topography in the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century City, Université Paris Diderot, 12-13 December 2013.

'The question of finance in early modern diplomacy', Splendid Encounters, Historical Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, 20-21 September 2013.

'Accessing the Shadow of God on Earth: Gifts, feasts, and humiliation in Ottoman diplomatic ceremonial', The Key to Power? The Culture of Access in Early Modern Courts, 1400-1700, University of Antwerp, 8-9 November 2012.

'Defining maritime territoriality: British privateers and Ottoman privateer lines, 1690-1790', Well-Connected Domains: Intersections of Asia and Europe in the Ottoman Empire, University of Heidelberg, 10-12 November 2011.

In the UK

'The limits of cosmopolitanism: Algerian merchants and European commercial courts in the later eighteenth century', Commercial Cosmopolitanism? Policing Contact Zones and Governing "Multinationals" in the Early Modern World', The Scottish Centre for Global History, University of Dundee, 2-3 June 2017.

'The filth of the Abode of Felicity: Sewers, stinks, and the late Ottoman Empire', Everyday Empires: Trans-Imperial Circulations in a Multidisciplinary Perspective, University of Birmingham, 25-26 May 2017.

'The sea', Spatial History and Its Sources, University of St Andrews, 2 September 2016

'Resistance, equality, civilization: Ottoman views of empire in Southeast Asia in the later nineteenth century', Imperial Comparison, All Soul's College, Oxford, 8-9 July 2016

'Encounters on the face of the wide ocean: Ottoman and North African notions of shared maritime space in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries', Sharing Space in the Early Modern World, 1450-1750, University of Oxford, 24-25 June 2016

'The clarion of Islam in Ayrshire: Islam and Ottoman pan-Islamism in Scotland at the turn of the twentieth century', Britain and the World 2016, King's College, London, 22-24 June 2016

'The requisites of civilization? Satirical critiques of "the West" in the later Ottoman Empire', Nature, Culture and Civilisation: Talking About and Beyond "the West" (1860-1940), University of St Andrews, 3 June 2016

'The vizier and the wizard: Authority, corruption, and bewitchment in an Ottoman frontier city in the late eighteenth century', Supernatural Cities, University of Portsmouth, 30 April 2016

'Filth on the Golden Horn: Sewage and sewers in Ottoman Kasımpaşa and Kağıthane', Firths & Fjords: A Coastal History Conference, University of the Highlands and Islands, 2 April 2016

'"Do you hear the voice of the martyrs?" Historical memories in Turkey and the centennial commemoration of the Çanakkale War/ Gallipoli Landings of 1915', Memory Symposium, University of Greenwich, 6 June 2015.

'Celebrating the Stuarts in Istanbul: Dynastic imagery and charity in the 'Allegrezza' of 1688', Kingdoms, Empire, and Legacies: Assessing the Stuart Dynasty and its Histories, 1603-2014, University of Cambridge, 29 August 2014.

'Ottoman responses to privateering in the eastern Mediterranean, 1696-1706: French diplomatic victory or Ottoman legal ingenuity?', France and the Mediterranean World in the Reign of Louis XIV, University of St Andrews, 10 May 2014.

'The culture of diplomatic gift-exchange in eighteenth-century British-Ottoman relations', Global Commodities: The Material Culture of Early Modern Connections, 1400-1800, University of Warwick, 12-14 December 2012.

'Corporate diplomacy: The British embassy in Istanbul in the eighteenth century', Britain and the World, University of Edinburgh, 21-23 June 2012.

'Trade and diplomacy in the finances of the Levant Company during the eighteenth century', Economic History Society Annual Conference, University of Oxford, 30 March-1 April 2012.

'Trends in British-Ottoman diplomatic gift exchange', Ottoman-European Exchanges in Commerce, Finance, and Culture, University of Cambridge, 28-30 March 2011.

'British Restorationsim in Ottoman Palestine, 1753-1842', From the Grand Tour to Mass Tourism: The Modern History of the British Abroad, University of Newcastle, 1-2 April 2010.

Conference Organisation

'Contacts, Encounters, Practices: European-Ottoman Diplomacy, 1500-1800', held at the University of St Andrews, 24 June 2014. Co-organised with Dr Phil McCluskey, funded by the University of St Andrews, the University of Sheffield, the Society for the Study of French History, and the Royal Historical Society.

Browse our publications database