MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER LOW portrait
  • Assistant Professor, History
801-581-3028

Research Summary

My primary research interests include the late Ottoman Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean World, and Environmental History.

Education

  • PhD, Department of History, Columbia University, 2015.

Biography

My primary research interests include the late Ottoman Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean World, and Environmental History. I received my Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015. Before joining the University of Utah, from 2015 to 2022, I was an Assistant Professor of History at Iowa State University.

I am the author of Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj (Columbia University Press, 2020). Drawing on Ottoman and British archival sources as well as published materials in Arabic and modern Turkish, Imperial Mecca analyzes how the Hijaz and the steamship-era pilgrimage to Mecca simultaneously became objects of Ottoman modernization, global public health, environmental management, international law, and inter-imperial competition during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 2021, Imperial Mecca received the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award and was one of six shortlisted titles for the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize. In 2022, Imperial Mecca was translated into Arabic and a Turkish translation is also forthcoming.

I am also co-editor (with Lâle Can, Kent Schull, and Robert Zens) of The Subjects of Ottoman International Law (Indiana University Press, 2020).

My articles have appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History; Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East; Environment and History; the International Journal of Middle East Studies; and the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. My articles have received awards from the American Society for Environmental History and the Comité International des Études Pré-Ottomanes et Ottomanes. 

My research and language training have been supported by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies; Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the David L. Boren National Security Education Program; the University of Glasgow’s William Lind Foundation; the Institute of Turkish Studies; Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities; Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED); and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

More recently, in 2020, I was awarded Iowa State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Emerging Faculty Leaders Award.

In 2020-2021, I was a Senior Humanities Research Fellow for the Study of the Arab World at NYU Abu Dhabi. While in residence in the United Arab Emirates, I continued work on several new monograph and article projects exploring the entangled enviro-technical histories of desalination technology, water production, infrastructure, energy, and climate change in the Arabian Peninsula, the wider Middle East, and more globally.

I also serve on the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Journal of Tourism History.