Orçun Can Okan



Titolo del progetto di ricerca: Italy and the Making of Post-Ottoman Turkey and the Arab East in the 1920s

Email address: orcuncan.okan@unina.it



Ph.D. in History, Columbia University, 2020

M.Phil. in History, Columbia University, 2016

M.A. in History, Columbia University, 2015

M.A. in History, Boğaziçi University, 2013

B.A. in History, Boğaziçi University, 2010

B.A. in Turkish Language and Literature, Boğaziçi University, 2010


Academic Teaching

University of Naples Federico II, SSM, Instructor for the Global History and Governance Program

     The Modern Middle East through Literature and Film (Spring 2022 graduate seminar)

The League of Nations and the Mandates System (Spring 2021 graduate seminar)

Boğaziçi University, Department of History, Instructor for the 2020 Summer Term

     The Making of the Post-Ottoman Middle East (1918-1939) (400-level undergraduate seminar)

Columbia University, Department of History, Teaching Assistant

     World History Since World War II (Spring 2018), Introduction to African History (Spring 2016), History of the Modern Middle East (Fall 2015), Ancient History of Egypt (Spring 2015), History of the Modern Middle East (Fall 2014)

Boğaziçi University, Department of History, Teaching Assistant

     The Making of the Modern World I-II (Spring and Fall 2011, year-long undergraduate survey course)


Research Languages

Turkish, English, Ottoman Turkish, French, Modern Standard Arabic


Awards and Fellowships

Junior Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, SSM, University of Naples Federico II

Research and Writing Grant, Istanbul Research Institute

Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, Columbia University GSAS

The Quinn Fellowship, Doris G. Quinn Foundation

The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

Residential PhD Fellowship, Koç University’s Center for Anatolian Civilizations 

Summer Research Fellowship, Columbia University Sakip Sabanci Center for Turkish Studies

Grant for Dissertation Research in Ankara, American Research Institute in Turkey

Fox Fellowship, The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University

Scholarship for Arabic Language Study at Cairo University, The Gov’t of the Arab Republic of Egypt

The Faruk Birtek Research Scholarship for Graduate Studies in History, Boğaziçi University Foundation

ERASMUS Scholarship for Undergraduate Studies at Uppsala University, European Commission EACEA

Dr. Okan’s work focuses on nationality and citizenship, imperial collapse and state succession in the aftermath of World War I. His research highlights that the construction of a republican regime in Turkey and the League of Nations Mandates in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in the 1920s were connected processes. He is particularly interested in disputes over the nationality of “former” Ottoman subjects such as “Syrians” in occupied Istanbul (1918-23), and points of diplomatic contention with similarly broad “regional” significance in the same decade, such as politics of employment and “xenophobia.” He analyzes diplomatic, administrative and legal interactions involving a diverse range of social actors and emphasizes broader contexts and connections across former Ottoman domains. This emphasis invites more nuanced approaches to the role of “external influences” in shaping the modern Middle East and fosters critical engagement with the meaning of transnational and transregional research in historical inquiries involving post-imperial polities.

In 2022, Okan’s research at the SSM will aim to situate Italy within the wider framework of a book project that builds on his 2020 dissertation titled “Coping with Transitions: The Connected Construction of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, 1918-1928.”

Recent Publications

Okan, Orçun Can. “Borders of State Succession and Regime Change in the Post-Ottoman Middle East.” In Regimes of Mobility: Borders and State Formation in the Middle East, 1918-1946, edited by Jordi Tejel and Ramazan Hakkı Öztan, 59-78. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022.

Okan, Orçun Can. “The Treaty of Lausanne and the Construction of the Arab Middle East.” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 8, no. 1 (Summer 2021): 457-62.