Kaya Şahin

Professor, Department of History

Executive Associate Dean, Hamilton Lugar School

Adjunct Professor, Department of Central Eurasian Studies

Adjunct Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of the early modern Ottoman Empire, with a particular interest in history writing, governance, religious/confessional identity, and ceremonies and rituals. The Ottoman Empire expanded over three continents, played an active role in global political and economic struggles, and ruled over several ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. To do justice to the depth and breadth of the historical experiences faced by individuals and communities who entered the empire’s orbit, I particularly emphasize comparative and regional/global perspectives.

My first book revolves around the life and writings of an Ottoman career bureaucrat, Celalzade Mustafa (ca. 1490-1567), and discusses the rise of a new Ottoman bureaucracy, the emergence of a new historical consciousness, and the creation of an Ottoman imperial culture that saw itself in direct competition with the Habsburgs and the Safavids. I argue that Ottoman attempts at empire-building in the first half of the sixteenth century reflect the general trends of a world-historical moment, and that the Ottomans have to be evaluated together with a host of other polities extending from Tudor England to Mughal India and beyond.

I see early modern Eurasia as a relatively unified ecological, political and cultural zone; and early modernity as a crucial period that allows us to critically re-evaluate modernity. Without ignoring the specificity of any local/regional experiences, I continue to use a comparative approach in my current research and writing projects, which offer a reassessment of the reign of the Ottoman ruler Süleyman (1520-1566), discuss the emergence and expansion of new publics and political rituals in the late medieval and early modern periods, and revisit the political, cultural, and military encounters between the Ottomans and the Safavids in the sixteenth century.

Honors and Awards

  • Leibniz Institute for European History (IEG), Mainz, Senior Fellowship, Summer 2020
  • Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study Residential Fellowship, Fall 2017
  • NEH Summer Institute Grant, to organize “Beyond East and West: the Early Modern World, 1400-1800,” Indiana University, June-July 2017
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship, 2015-16
  • NEH Summer Institute Participant, “Empires and Interactions across the Early Modern World, 1400-1800,” St. Louis University, June 2013
  • SSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research: Inter-Asian Contexts and Connections, 2012-2013
  • Sherman Emerging Scholar, 2011-2012, University of North Carolina-Wilmington
  • The Newberry Library, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, 2010-2011
  • NEH Summer Seminar Participant, “Re-Mapping the Renaissance: Exchange between Early Modern Islam and Europe,” University of Maryland, June-July 2010
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Middle Eastern Studies, Northwestern University, Department of History, 2007-2008 


Research Interests

  • The institutional and ideological aspects of Ottoman imperial governance
  • Comparative studies of early modern Eurasian empires
  • Ottoman and modern Turkish historiography
  • The Ottoman-Safavid rivalry
  • Inter-cultural and inter-religious exchanges in early modern Eurasia
  • The emergence of new publics and political rituals in the late medieval and early modern periods


  • Ph.D. at University of Chicago, 2007


  • Books
  • Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Turkish translation: Kanuni Devrinde İmparatorluk ve İktidar: Celalzade Mustafa ve 16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Dünyası. Trans. Ahmet Tunç Şen. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi, 2014.
  • Refereed Articles and Book Chapters
  • “To Observe, to Record, to Depict: Memorializing the Circumcision of an Ottoman Prince, ca. 1582-ca. 1600,” History and Theory 58, 4 (December 2019), page numbers TBD.
  • “Staging an Empire: An Ottoman Circumcision Ceremony as Cultural Performance,” American Historical Review 123, 2 (April 2018), 463-92.
  •  “Political Pragmatism, Humanist Ideals and Early Modern Orientalism in Busbecq’s Turkish Letters,” in Markus Keller and Javier Irigoyen-Garcia (eds.), The Dialectics of Orientalism in Early Modern Europe, 1492-1700 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 33-49.
  •  “A Tale of Two Chancellors: Niccolò Machiavelli, Celālzāde Muṣṭafā, and Connected Political Cultures in Early Modern Eurasia,” in Giuseppe Marcocci and Lucio Biasiori (eds.), Machiavelli, Islam and the East: Reorienting the Foundations of Modern Political Thought (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 157-176.
  •  “From Frontier Principality to Early Modern Empire: Limitations and Capabilities of Ottoman Governance,” in William Caferro (ed.), The Routledge History of the Renaissance (London and New York: Routledge, 2017), 321-36.
  • “Courtly Connections: Anthony Sherley’s Relation of his Trauels into Persia (1613) in a Global Context,” Renaissance Quarterly, 69, 1 (2016): 80-115, co-authored with Julia Schleck.
  •  “Imperialism, Bureaucratic Consciousness and the Historian’s Craft: A Reading of Celalzade Mustafa’s Tabakatu’l-memalik,” in H. Erdem Çıpa and Emine Fetvacı (eds.), Editing the Past, Fashioning the Future: Historiography of the Ottoman Empire (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2013), 39-57.
  • (Turkish translation: “İmparatorluk, Bürokrasi Bilinci ve Tarihçinin Zanaatı,” in H. Erdem Çıpa and Emine Fetvacı (eds.), Osmanlı Sarayında Tarihyazımı (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2014), 46-68.)
  • “Constantinople and the End Time: The Ottoman Conquest as a Portent of the Last Hour,” The Journal of Early Modern History 14 (2010): 317-54.
  • Edited volumes and special journal issues
  • Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 19, 1, special issue on “The Early Modern Islamic City,” co-edited with Babak Rahimi, Winter 2019.
  • Radical History Review 130, special issue on “Premodern Radicalisms, Radical Premodernisms,” co-edited with Dave Kinkela and Duane Corpis, January 2018.
  • Catalogue essay
  • “On the Works of a Historical Nature in the Bayezid II Library Inventory” and “List of Entries,” in Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4), vol. 1: Essays, eds. Gülru Necipoğlu et al. (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2019), 569-96, co-authored with Cornell H. Fleischer.
  • Review article
  • “The Ottoman Empire in the Long Sixteenth Century,” Renaissance Quarterly 70, 1 (2017): 220-34.
  • Miscellaneous
  • “Introduction: The Early Modern Islamic City,” special issue of the Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies19, 1 (Winter 2019): 1-15, co-authored with Babak Rahimi.
  • “Introduction: Early Modernity/Modernities: The Possibilities and Limits of the Concept for a Radical History of the Premodern Past,” Radical History Review 130 (January 2018): 1-7, co-authored with David Kinkela and Duane Corpis.
  • (With Cornell H. Fleischer), “Suleiman the Magnificent,” in Gerhard Bowering, et. al., The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).

Other Activities

Service to the Profession (selected)

  • Discipline Representative, the Islamic World, The Renaissance Society of America, 2014-present.
  • Member, Committee on Committees, American Historical Association, 2016-2019.
  • Member, Faculty Advisory Board, Indiana University Press, July 2016-June 2019.
  • Director (interim), Indiana University, Renaissance Studies, July 2018-June 2019.
  • Academic Director, Indiana University Eurasia Gateway, Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, January 2016-December 2018.
  • Organizer, NEH Summer Institute, Beyond East and West: The Early Modern World, 1400-1800, Indiana University, June-July 2017.
  • Member, Editorial Board, International Journal for Middle East Studies, January 2020-
  • Member, Editorial Board, I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History, July 2019-
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Fall 2019-present.
  • Member, Advisory Board, ARC Humanities Press, “Connected Histories in the Early Modern World,” 2016-present.
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Renaissance Quarterly, 2015-present.
  • Member, Editorial Collective, Radical History Review, Fall 2014-Spring 2019.
  • Reviewer, Journal of Near Eastern Studies; American Historical Review; Journal of Early Modern History, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Renaissance Quarterly, Radical History Review, İletişim Publishing (Istanbul), Indiana University Press, Cambridge University Press, Swiss National Science Foundation, ARC Humanities Press, The Royal Asiatic Society, University of California Press, Yıllık: Annual of Istanbul Studies.