Kaya Sahin

Associate Professor, Department of History

Academic Director, IU Eurasia Gateway

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Central Eurasian Studies

Adjunct Associate 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 the construction of discourses/fictions around the question of what it meant to be an Ottoman.

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 projects, which deal with issues such as the cultural and religious aspects of the Ottoman-Safavid rivalry in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the European views/representations of the early modern Sunni-Shiite divide, and the fabrication of consent and legitimacy in early modern Eurasian empires.

Honors and Awards

  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship, 2015-16
  • Renaissance Society of America, elected Discipline Representative, the Islamic World, 2015-
  • 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 foundations of the Ottoman imperial praxis
  • 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


  • Ph.D. at University of Chicago, 2007



  • 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.


  • “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 Editing the Past, Fashioning the Future: Historiography of the Ottoman Empire, edited by Erdem Çipa and Emine Fetvacı, 39-57. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.
  • “Constantinople and the End Time: The Ottoman Conquest as a Portent of the Last Hour.” Journal of Early Modern History 14 (2010): 317–54.