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Michael A. Reynolds

  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies
Position: Core Faculty
Title: Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies.
  • International relations
  • Ottoman history
  • Russian/Eurasian history
Office: 105 Jones Hall
Phone: 609-258-0256
Office Hours: On Leave

I came to the Middle East from the north, from Russia. While studying Russian in Moscow as undergraduate, I befriended a number of people from the Caucasus—Dagestan, Chechnya, Ossetia Armenia, Azerbaijan. They fascinated me, and after traveling with a friend to his village in Dagestan I began to think I might like to study the region. I returned home, completed my BA, and returned to Moscow where I worked for two years. It was a tremendous experience, but I decided that life was too short to spend doing corporate work. I entered Columbia University's Political Science department to pursue a PhD with a thematic focus on international relations and a regional one on Eurasia and the Middle East.

Although I benefited tremendously from the instruction I received in social science methodologies and epistemology, particularly critiques of history as a scholarly endeavor, I ultimately decided that I found the field of history more compelling than contemporary political science. I came to Princeton to pursue a PhD and took up the study of Ottoman and Russian-Soviet history as well as Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, and Islamic mysticism. I knew I wanted to pursue comparative and cross-regional work, so I chose to focus on the final era of the Ottoman and Russian empires. The Bolshevik Revolution had long interested me as an event of world historic importance, and the parallels and connections between the collapse of the Ottoman and Romanov empires and the formation of the Turkish Republic and Soviet Union intrigued me. I wrote my dissertation on the twilight struggle between the two empires for control of Anatolia and the Caucasus. A revised and shortened version will be coming out as a book with Cambridge University Press.

I finished my dissertation as a predoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, part of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. I then stayed on for two more years as a fellow conducting directed research on various aspects of historical legacies in the Middle East.

I later returned to the Department of Near Eastern Studies as an assistant professor. The undergraduate courses I have taught or am teaching include “War and Politics in the Modern Middle East”; “Blood, Sex, and Oil: The Caucasus”; “Nation, State, and Empire: The Ottoman, Romanov, and Hapsburg Experiences”; and “An Introduction to the Middle East.” The graduate courses I teach are “Comparative Transformations in the Near East and Eurasia” and “Empire and Nation in Theory and Practice.”

In 2009-2010, I organized a lecture series for Princeton’s Program in Russian and
Eurasian Studies, entitled “The Caucasus: Zones of Contestation".

BA, Government and Slavic Languages and Literature, Harvard University
MA, Political Science, Columbia University
PhD, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

Recent publications:
Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires ,
1908-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
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“Abdürrezzak Bedirhan: Ottoman Kurd and Russophile in the Twilight of Empire,”  Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History  vol. 12,   no. 2 (spring  2011): 411–50.
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“Avars,“ “Dargins,” “Laks,” Lezgins,” and “Tabasarans,” in Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia, ed. Jeffrey E. Cole (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2011), 28–31, 107–10, 229–30, 236–39, 360–62.
“Buffers, not Brethren: Young Turk Military Policy in the First World War and the Myth of Panturanism,” Past and Present 203 (May, 2009):137-79.
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"Native Sons: Post-Imperial Politics, Islam, and Identity in the North Caucasus, 1917–1918,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 56 (March 2008): 221–47.
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Contemporary Analysis:
“The Northern Caucasus, the Tsarnaevs, and Us.”  Foreign Policy Research Institute E-Note (May 2013).
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Echoes of Empire: Turkey’s Crisis of Kemalism and the Search for an Alternative Foreign Policy (Brookings Institute Saban Center - Center on the United States and Europe Analysis Paper No. 26, June 2012). 
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“Behind the Blow-Out at Davos,” History News Network (2 February 2009).

“Turkey’s Troubles in the Caucasus,” Insight Turkey 10, no. 4 (October–December 2008): 15–23.


Review of Moshe Gammer, ed., Ethno-Nationalism, Islam, and the State in the Caucasus: Post-Soviet Disorder (New York: Routledge, 2008), in Nations and Nationalism 15, no. 2 (April 2009): 367–69.

Review of Moshe Gammer and David Wasserstein, eds., Daghestan and the World of Islam (Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2006), in Central Asian Survey 27, no. 1 (March 2008): 96–98.

Review of Valery Tishkkov, Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004), in Central Eurasian Studies Review 5, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 59–60.