Event Details

Location: Tucson, AZ



Friday, January 6, 2017


Director and Professor
UA School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies

Between the Ottoman Empire and the Modern Middle East
A Life during Wartime
How One Man Helped to Shape the Modern Middle East

What is happening in the t he Middle East is extremely important for us to understand. The events of this critical area have far-reaching implications for peace, economic security and political engagement around the world.  To comprehend the forces driving change today, we must understand Ottoman Empire’s complex, fascinating history.

Dr. Fortna has written a book focused on Eşref Kuşçubası.  From 1908 to 1920, this one man helped shape the history of the Middle East as it exists today.  Kuşçubası, sometimes known as the Turkish “Lawrence of Arabia,” played an important role in the violent struggles that ended the Ottoman Empire and ushered in the modern Middle East.  This headstrong, “self-sacrificing” officer was committed to defending the empire’s shrinking borders.  Eşref took on a string of special assignments for Enver Pasha, the rapidly rising star of the Ottoman military, first in Libya against the Italians, then in the Balkan Wars and World War I.  He was finally captured by the forces of the Arab Revolt, turned over to the British and imprisoned on Malta.  Released in 1920, he joined the national resistance movement in Anatolia but fell out with Mustafa Kemal’s leadership and switched sides, earning him banishment from the Turkish Republic at its founding and exile until the 1950s.  It is this story that Ben Fortna will present.

Dr. Benjamin Fortna is an historian of the modern Middle East with a research focus on the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.  His recently published book makes use of Eşref Kuşçubası’s private papers for the first time.  We will be among the first to hear about his findings and about this new perspective on Middle Eastern history.

After completing degrees at Yale, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, he taught at the School of Oriental & African Studies in the University of London for 18 years. He was the series editor or on the Boards of several prominent journals on the Middle East and appeared on such BBC programs as Who Do You Think You Are? and The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Neighbours.  A prolific researcher and writer, he is the author and editor of dozens of publications.
He is now Director of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the U of A.  Dr. Fortna is a splendid speaker and will help us understand the roots of what is happening in Turkey today.

2200 E Elm Street (between Campbell and Tucson Blvd)
Free parking across the street from the main entrance

$30 at the door (cash or check)
Registration starts at 11:30 AM at The Arizona Inn (Tucson Room)
Lunch served at Noon

RSVP: To Marianne Kaestle at yaleclub.ariz@icloud.com by Jan 3.

Treat your reservation as a commitment and notify us if you are unable to attend.

Yale Club of Southern Arizona
Director of Communications
Marianne Kaestle