Michael Talbot

Dr Michael Talbot BA Hons, MA, PhD, PGCertHE, FRHistS, FRAS, FHEA

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

Key details

Dr Michael Talbot

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

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 the history of late Ottoman Palestine. He is currently working on a new project on the Ottoman consular network and Ottoman communities in Britain and Ireland. 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.

As an active participant in the Ottoman History Podcast network, he is committed to bringing Ottoman history to a wider audience. In 2018 he became a BBC and Arts and Humanities Research Council 'New Generation Thinker' making shows for BBC Radio 3, and was an on-screen expert and historical consultant for the 2020 hit Netflix docudrama series 'Rise of Empires: Ottoman'.

Responsibilities within the university

Undergraduate teaching

  • 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)
  • HIST1014 History Work Placement (Level 6)

PhD supervision

  • Chloe Emmott, 'British archaeology in Palestine, 1880-1930' (Vice Chancellor's Scholarship)
  • Sebastian Rose, 'Imperial frontiers and technologies in Iran, 19th and early 20th centuries' (JCM Scholarship)

Administration and academic citizenship

  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences officer for admissions, taster days, and outreach. Please contact me if you would like to discuss organising a taster session with your school or college!
  • Member, History Research Group
  • Chair, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences Early Career Researchers' Network
  • Member, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Science Research and Enterprise Committee
  • Safeguarding Officer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences.


  • BBC and Arts and Humanities Research Council 'New Generation Thinker (2018)
  • University of Greenwich 'Outstanding Achievement in Research' award (2018)
  • 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 Historical Society
  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Board member and trustee, Palestine Exploration Fund
  • Board member and trustee, British Institute at Ankara
  • Trustee, British Community Council of Istanbul

Research / Scholarly interests

Michael's research covers a number of areas of Ottoman history, primarily 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. 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. 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. He is increasingly interested in links between the Ottoman Empire and Japan and Japanese scholars of Ottoman history, and has been learning Japanese to further this research.

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. He is currently working on a major project on Ottoman consular networks based on archival research in Istanbul. Above all, Michael is deeply interested in Ottoman relations and interactions with the wider world and the question of what made something (or someone) "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.

Media activity


  • Talking head and historical consultant, 'Rise of Empires: Ottoman', Netflix
  • Historical consultant, 'Great British Bake Off', BBC 1
  • Consultant, BBC Pronunciation Unit


  • Guest, 'Free Thinking', BBC Radio 3
  • Presenter, 'The Essay', BBC Radio 3

News expertise

  • Interviewee, Al Jazeera English
  • Interviewee, El Mundo
  • Interviewee, Radio & Television Slovakia

Recent publications


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

Books as contributing author

Ottoman-Southeast Asian Relations: Sources from the Ottoman Archives, eds. İsmail Hakkı Kadı and A.C.S. Peacock with contributions by Giancarlo Casale, Annabel Teh Gallop, Rıfat Günalan, Patricia Herbert, Jana Igunma, Midori Kawashima, Abraham Sakili and Michael Talbot. Leiden: Brill, 2019 (two volumes)

Journal articles

  • 'Sparks of Happenstance: Photographs, Public Celebrations, and the Ottoman Military Band of Jerusalem', Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 5:1 (2018), 33-66
  • '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

Chapters in edited volumes

  • 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

Ottoman History Podcast

'Podcasting the Ottomans II' (2018, interview with 3rd year University of Greenwich Historians, Taylan Güngör, and Zeinab Azarbadegan)
'States of Emergency in the Late Ottoman Empire'(2018, interview with Noémi Lévy-Aksu and Taylan Güngör)
'Izmir and Thessaloniki: From Empire to Nation State'(2017, interview with Kalliopi Amygdalou)
'Visual Sources in Late Ottoman History' (2017, collaborative podcast from a conference at Columbia University) 
'Ottoman-Japanese Relations: A Short History of the Ertuğrul' (2017, recorded in Yokohama, Japan)
'Early French Encounters with the Ottomans' (2017, interview with Pascale Barthe 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)


Recent invited papers

'Palestine from the Sky: The British archives', Palestine from the Sky, A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, 3-7 December 2019

'Protecting the Mediterranean: Ottoman responses to maritime violence in the eighteenth century', Maritime History Seminar, King's College London, 25 April 2019

'The cacophonous history of the Ottoman band of Jerusalem', Palestine Exploration Fund Lecture, British Museum, 4 April 2019

'Consular networks, shipping routes, and the Ottoman world in the late 19th century', Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greek Seminar, University of Birmingham, 7 March 2019

'Execrable music: The off-key history of the Ottoman band of Jerusalem', Arts & Humanities Research Council Lunchtime Research Seminar, AHRC HQ, Swindon, 18 December 2018.

'The late Ottoman refugee crisis and its contemporary relevance for Syria and Palestine', European Institute of the Mediterranean, Barcelona, 29 November 2018

'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', at Neuere Forschungen zur Osteuropäischen Geschichte, University of Tübingen, 7 November 2016

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

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

'To protect the coasts from pirate brigands: Ottoman anti-piracy measures in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1718-70' at Greenwich Maritime Research Series, University of Greenwich/National Maritime Museum, 27 April 2016

Recent conference papers

'Peaceful commerce and the Abode of Holy War: Regulating Trade between Algiers and Western Europe in the eighteenth century', Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference, New Orleans 14-17 November 2019

Ottoman Istanbul as a model for studying diplomacy and urban space', Madrid, Urbe Diplomática del Siglo XVII, Museo Nacional del Prado, 19-20 September 2019

'Voices of the victims: Ottoman policies towards piracy and privateering in the eighteenth-century Mediterranean' , The Problem of Piracy, University of Strathclyde, 24-26 June 2019

'Voices of refugees: Algerians and Cretans in late Ottoman Palestine', Narratives and Narrations of Migration in the Eastern Mediterranean, Rühr Universität Bochum, 14 February 2019

'British ambassador, Ottoman official? Gifts and Ottoman universalism in the eighteenth century', Gifts and Tribute in Early Modern Diplomacy: Global Perspectives, University of Warwick in Venice, 8 December 2018

'Ottoman proposals for mediation during the War of the Austrian Succession', Splendid Encounters VII, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Vilnius, 27-28 September 2018

'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

'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

'A photographic microhistory of late Ottoman Jerusalem' at Visual Sources in Late Ottoman History, Columbia University, New York, 20 April 2017

'Ottoman views of European empire in Southeast Asia', at Ottoman Global History, European University Institute, Florence, 10 February 2017

'Negotiators, not diplomats: Ambassadors and the notion of friendship in Ottoman-British relations', at Towards a Transcultural History of Diplomacy, Institute for Advanced 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', at Middle East Studies Association annual conference, Boston, 17-20 November 2016

'The sea' at 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', at Imperial Comparisons. University of 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' at 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' at Britain and the World 2016, King's College London, 22-24 June 2016

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

'The requisites of civilization? Satirical critiques of "the West" in the later Ottoman Empire' at 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' at Supernatural Cities, University of Portsmouth, 30 April 2016

'Filth on the Golden Horn: Sewage and sewers in Ottoman Kasımpaşa and Kağıthane', at Firths and Fjords: A Coastal History Conference. University of the Highlands and Islands, 30 March – 2 April 2016