August 20, 2022

Nabil Al-Tikriti Contributes to Publications

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Nabil Al-Tikriti

This past summer the International Association of Maritime Studies (IAMS), together with Piri Reis University, Denizler Kitabevi, and Kaptan Yayincilik, published the conference proceedings from the First International Congress of Eurasian Maritime Studies, which Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti participated in at Istanbul in 2012. The title of this peer-reviewed volume is Seapower, Technology, and Trade: Studies in Turkish Maritime History. Al-Tikriti‘s contribution, entitled Ties that Bind: An Ottoman Maritime Patron from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean,” appears as the first chapter in the first part of the volume.

The abstract is as follows: “Following a brief commentary on the framing of ‘The Age of Exploration’ in U.S. Western Civilization textbooks, and a summary of the International Relations lineup in the early 16th century, I look at one particular Ottoman maritime patron who appears to have played a noticeable role in the Ottoman ‘pivot’ from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean just after the turn of the 16th century.”

In addition, on August 31, Stéphane Ipert, a France-based expert in preventative conservation, restoration, and digital libraries, presented a paper that he and Al-Tikriti jointly completed concerning the long-term effects on Iraq’s libraries and manuscript collections of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion and subsequent occupation of that country. The paper, entitled A Survey of Iraqi Libraries Before and After the American Intervention,” was presented to the Tenth Islamic Manuscript Conference at Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge, organized by The Islamic Manuscript Association (TIMA).

Al-Tikriti Presents Research in St. Petersburg, Russia

Al-Tikriti delivers research on John Elphinstone <br> and the Battle of Çeşme.

Al-Tikriti delivers research on John Elphinstone and the Battle of Çeşme.

On July 25, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a paper entitled “John Elphinstone and the Battle of Çeşme” to the Second International Congress of Maritime Studies, which took place on July 23-25 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Congress, which featured international scholars presenting some 115 papers primarily relevant to Russian Maritime History, was hosted by the Lichnost Peterburga Historical and Cultural Center. Co-organizers included Piri Reis Üniversitesi and the International Association of Maritime Studies (IAMS). Invited by the IAMS conference organizers for the third time in as many years, Al-Tikriti described the overall Mediterranean campaign undertaken by the Russian fleet as part of the 1768-1774 Russo-Ottoman war, the legacies of that war, the role played by the Scottish captain John Elphinstone and other major players, and the materials held in the Elphinstone papers collection at Princeton University. Organizers plan to complete an edited volume of conference presentations in the months to come.

In the course of his trip, Al-Tikriti also visited Helsinki and Istanbul, where he discussed potential international study opportunities with certain Turkish academics. In addition, he visited the Russia Academy of Science’s Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, where he researched an Ottoman divan poetry collection relevant to his research agenda on early modern Ottoman intellectual history. To prepare for this presentation, Al-Tikriti also conducted two days of research at Princeton’s Rare Books Collection in June 2014.

Here is Al-Tikriti’s paper abstract for the Congress:

Prof. Nabil Al-Tikriti

Al-Tikriti in front of the RAS Institute of Oriental Manuscripts.

“In July 1770, the Russian Baltic Sea fleet defeated an Ottoman fleet in the Aegean Sea between the coast of Çeşme and the island of Chios. The Russian side was supported by Greek fighters who might be classified as proto-nationalist leaders, and was partially commanded by an English mercenary named John Elphinstone. The Ottoman side was commanded by an eccentric Georgian admiral named Cezayırlı Hasan Paşa who won a modicum of fame for his love of domesticated lions.

This battle took place as part of the 1768-1774 Russo-Ottoman war, a decisive Russian victory which transferred parts of the Northern Caucasus, Crimea, and Southern Ukraine from Ottoman to Romanov control. The war ended with the 1774 Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, which scholars have long considered a turning point in Ottoman diplomatic history, largely because the two signatory empires traded protector status, with the Russians claiming that status over Ottoman Orthodox Christians and the Ottomans claiming the same status over Russia’s Muslim populations.

In my presentation, I intend to examine the role that John Elphinstone played in these events by summarizing and analyzing his memoirs. His papers, which are held within Princeton University’s rare books collection, should provide great insight into the diplomatic, military, and political intrigues surrounding the war in general, and the Battle of Çeşme in particular. More broadly, I intend to explore some of the larger legacies of this war on Russian-Ottoman relations, the progressive expansion of Russian sovereignty southwards in the 18th-19th centuries, and the contemporary relevance of these events to the international relations of Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.”

This trip was made possible with the support of the conference organizers, a CAS supplemental grant and a CAS faculty development (research) grant. However, due to CAS budget limitations, these presentations, discussions, and research visits were also partially self-financed.

Al-Tikriti Chairs Social Media Panel, Re-Elected to MSF USA Board

Nabil Al-Tikriti at MSF USA General Assembly in NYC

Nabil Al-Tikriti at MSF USA General Assembly in NYC

During the May 30-31, 2014 MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA annual General Assembly, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti successfully ran for re-election to the MSF USA board of directors. Each term runs for three years, and is completely voluntary. First elected in 2011, with his re-election Al-Tikriti hopes to continue serving on the MSF USA board through 2014. Elected board members traditionally spring from returned field volunteers, a qualification which Al-Tikriti gained in Somalia (1993), Iran (1996), Albania (1999), Turkey (1999), Jordan/Iraq (2002-2003), and Turkey/Syria (2013).

In his capacity as a board member, on May 30 Al-Tikriti co-organized (with Jason Cone, MSF USA Director of Communications), moderated, and led discussion for a plenary session entitled “Use of Social Media in Crisis Situations” during the 2014 MSF USA General Assembly in Brooklyn. During this session, participants set out to describe various experiences in the field regarding the use of social media.

Session panelists included: Wendy Harman (Director of Information Management and Situational Awareness, American Red Cross), Patrick Meier (Director of Social Innovation at QCRI), Chris Houston (Member, MSF Canada Board of Directors), and Jason Cone (Director of Communications, MSF USA).

The session description was as follows: “MSF’s relationship with social media is no longer a matter of choice, if indeed it ever was. Social media is the communications reality in which MSF must learn to operate. What new challenges does this pose, and what are the opportunities to be found therein? What have been our experiences with social media in recent years, and what lessons might we learn from them? What are we doing in order both to leverage social media in furtherance of our own ends, and to prepare ourselves for instances when pressure is exerted on MSF via social media?”

Nabil Al-Tikriti Discusses Iraq on KPFA and KPFK Pacifica Radio Stations

Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti

Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti

On Friday, June 13, 2014, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti appeared on Los Angeles based KPFK’s “Radio Uprising” program to discuss the latest developments in Iraq. Hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar, Al-Tikriti was also joined by Matt Howard of the NGO “Iraq Veterans Against the War.”

The segment lasted just over 18 minutes, and can be screened via this podcast link:

In the course of this discussion, Al-Tikriti described the factors dating back to the 2003 Anglo-American invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq which led to the current crisis. He also offered prescriptive advice for today’s policymakers, suggesting both that the regional sectarian war that many have been predicting has in fact arrived, and that one of the few policy options with a modest chance of success would be for U.S. officials to mediate a meeting between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Nabil Al-Tikriti appeared on San Francisco’s KPFA “Saturday Morning Talk” program to discuss developments in Iraq. Hosted by Kris Welch, Al-Tikriti was also joined by Sami Rassouli of the “Muslim Peacemaker Teams” and Robert Naiman of “Just Foreign Policy.”

The segment lasted roughly 55 minutes, and can be screened via this podcast link until July 5: Al-Tikriti’s starts at the 1:06 minute mark.

In the course of this discussion, Al-Tikriti described the meaning of the term ISIL, the evolution of the organization’s growth, the role played by U.S. foreign policy in the past, and some of the options facing foreign policymakers today.

Nabil Al-Tikriti Monitors Ukrainian National Elections

Nabil Al-Tikriti with OSCE partner at polling station.

Nabil Al-Tikriti with OSCE partner at polling station.

On May 19 to 29, 2014, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti served as an election monitor for the Ukrainian national elections. One of around 90 Americans joining the 900 strong OSCE (Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe) delegation, Al-Tikriti spent the first two days in Kiev before joining the rest of his 20 person team to monitor the region around Lviv, in Western Ukraine. Together with his Canadian monitoring partner, he visited over a dozen polling stations in and around Yavoriv district, which borders Poland. He also observed ballot counting at the district station in Yavoriv, before visiting numerous historical sites and museums in both Lviv and Kiev, before returning home.



Nabil Al-Tikriti Discusses MSF at UVA and Quantico Forums

In his capacity as a member of the Board of Directors for Doctors Without Borders/MSF USA, Nabil Al-Tikriti discussed MSF at two recent forums. In the first, he addressed the University of Virginia International Relations Organization and Middle Eastern Leadership Council on 16 April, at Jefferson Hall off the main quads. In this presentation, he discussed MSF’s involvement in the Middle East since the 1970s, as well as the movement’s overall goals, orientations, and decisions throughout its history.

On 21 April, Prof. Al-Tikriti represented MSF and discussed their protocols regarding field military-humanitarian cooperation at a forum organized as part of the Marine Corps University’s “Nine Innings” exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at Quantico, Virginia. In doing so, he joined a number of other NGO (ICRC, CARE, IMC) and US government  (USAID, DHS, State Department) representatives addressing similar concerns, and spoke with several Marine and international military officers about their experiences, limitations, and expectations working with independent NGOs in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Al-Tikriti Participates in NGO Debate, Speaks at Stafford Rotary Club

Nabil Al-Tikriti discussing an FAD topic.

Nabil Al-Tikriti discussing an FAD topic.

In his capacity as a board member of the United States section of  MSF/Doctors Without Borders, Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies, participated in the annual Field Associative Debate (FAD) for MSF staff serving throughout Afghanistan, in Kabul on March 10 – 11.

This year’s international FAD topic covered the use of new communications and data collection technologies for field-based medical relief, while the national FAD topic asked where MSF might usefully choose to expand its operations in Afghanistan in the months and years to come. For the latter debate, participants were exposed to three UN maps detailing conflict, needs, and NGO presence in Afghanistan, and were then asked to debate potential regional and operational areas of need. After debating this year’s topics, staff members then presented recommendations and motions for consideration by the MSF International General Assembly. Immediately prior to this year’s FAD, Prof. Al-Tikriti joined several colleagues on a brief field visit to both a mobile clinic and Ahmad Shah Baba hospital in the outskirts of Kabul, a full service maternity, child health, and trauma hospital supplied, supported, and staffed with the assistance of MSF. Upon his return, he co-authored a FAD report, and completed a brief memo on regional operations for internal review.

Shortly after his return, Al-Tikriti made a presentation to the Stafford Rotary Club on March 19 describing his past experiences since 1993 volunteering in field operations with MSF, and his current activities as an MSF USA board member. In the course of this presentation, he discussed his experiences in several international conflicts, MSF’s charter and approach to medical relief, the movement’s global financial challenges, and his recent trip to Kabul.

Al-Tikriti Presents Paper, Prepares Summer Study Course Segment

On Nov. 7, Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a paper entitled “The 1502-1504 Correspondence Between Şehzade Korkud and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem” to the Mediterranean in History Workshop, which took place on Nov. 7-8 in Venice, Italy. The workshop, which brought together some 24 experts in early modern Mediterranean maritime history, primarily from Italy and Turkey, was hosted by Universita Ca’ Foscari’s Department of Asian and North African Studies, the Archivio di Stato di Venezia, and the region of Venice. Co-organizers included Piri Reis Universitesi and the International Association of Maritime Studies (IAMS). Invited by the conference organizers, Prof. Al-Tikriti presented an English translation and analysis of several letters exchanged between the Ottoman prince Korkud and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, then based in Rhodes. Organizers plan to complete an edited volume of conference presentations in the months to come.

Following the workshop, with the additional support of UMW’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation, Prof. Al-Tikriti spent Nov. 9-10 visiting sites of historical, cultural, and pedagogical interest in advance of the Cultural Capitals Summer Study Course. This course, which Prof. Al-Tikriti plans to co-lead in the summer of 2015 with Prof. Joseph Romero of the Classics, Philosophy, and Religion Department, will take students to London, Paris, Venice, and Rome. During this three and half week course, students will earn six credits after completing several study projects. In an effort to strengthen course content in the Venice portion of the course, Prof. Al-Tikriti visited numerous sites throughout the city, fostered local contacts, and attained preliminary approval to lead students through certain closed facilities of historical and cultural interest. 

Here is Prof. Al-Tikriti’s paper abstract for the workshop:

“Just at the turn of the sixteenth century there broke out a nasty little war between a Vatican-brokered Christian alliance and the Ottomans, which included a major push to siege the port of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. In the immediate aftermath of this siege, and conclusion of hostilities, the Ottoman prince, Korkud, who had been in command of the province under siege was transferred from his Aegean post of Manisa to the Mediterranean post of Antalya. Although it remains unclear why this transfer happened, or whether it was a promotion or a demotion, it appears likely that the prince was tasked with managing the highly sensitive and dangerous relationship with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.

In this paper, I plan to explore in detail the extended correspondence which Korkud and the Knights subsequently exchanged between August 1502 and July 1504. In the course of these exchanges, the two parties engaged in a series of negotiations attempting to regularize relations between the two hostile parties and complete several highly sensitive prisoner exchanges. Through an exploration of this correspondence, as well as the relevant narrative sources surrounding this relationship during these years, I plan to draw some preliminary conclusions concerning the nature of Ottoman-Knights relations, the protocols of captivity, and the modalities of conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean during this period.” 


Al-Tikriti Presents Paper at Turkish Maritime History Conference

On Sept. 28, Nabil Al-Tikriti offered a presentation entitled “Advocating for Release: The al-Darani Appeal” to the International Symposium on Piri Reis and Turkish Maritime History in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference, which brought together several dozen Ottoman maritime history experts from all over the world, was hosted by the new Prime Minister’s Ottoman Archives. Invited by the conference organizers, Prof. Al-Tikriti presented his analysis of two letters sent by a prisoner of the Knights of St. John, based in Rhodes. Organizers plan to complete an edited volume of conference presentations by the end of the year. This conference was hosted by the Turkish Historical Foundation, the Prime Minister’s Ottoman Archives, and the Ataturk Supreme Council for Culture, Language, and History. Here is a link to the conference program:


Here is Prof. Al-Tikriti’s conference abstract:

“In 1504, in the midst of lengthy prisoner negotiations between Şehzade Korkud (d. 1513) and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, the Ottoman prince demanded the immediate release of fourteen Muslim prisoners. One of those he named was a certain “Hajji Abu Bakr.” It is probable that this individual was Abū Bakr al-Dārānī, who had sent a letter to Korkud appealing for his rescue from these Knights of Rhodes. His letter, probably written at some point in 1502-1503, was transcribed and inserted into Korkud’s 1508 magnum opus, Da‘wat al-nafs al-āliha.  Steeped in the rhetorics of ghazā’, al-Dārānī used arguments which combined the imperatives of militant piety, real world enrichment, and political calculation. As this prisoner saw it, the Knights were perfidious infidel pirates who never honor their agreements, pillage throughout the region, enrich themselves at the expense of Muslims, enslave ten Muslims for each one that they release, and oppress the Greeks (Rūm) who populate Rhodes. According to al-Dārānī, their harm to Islamdom was so severe that even if the Ottomans were to capture all of Christendom yet fail to capture Rhodes, they would have accomplished nothing. Al-Dārānī also set out to counter two widely-held beliefs concerning the Knights in Rhodes – that they would be difficult to conquer and that they possessed nothing worthy of the expense. Considering that only 600 Knights resided on the island, the prisoner insisted that the islanders would help the Muslims take the island, and that it would be easy to take. Not only were the Knights vulnerable, but they possessed great wealth, and their wealth was more than sufficient to compensate for any costs incurred by invading the island. Closing with political arguments concerning the dangers the Knights posed to Ottoman sovereignty, al-Dārānī, concluded that the Ottomans should waste no time invading Rhodes. Sources provide no sure indication whether al-Dārānī and the other prisoners listed in Korkud’s 1504 request were ever freed. However, another undated letter by a certain Taīyüddīn Dārānī of rablus-i Şām also urging an invasion of Rhodes provides several hints as to what might have ensued with these prisoners.

In my presentation, I examine these two letters in some depth and elaborate on what they tell us about Ottoman-Knights relations around the turn of the 16th century. I also explore some of the broader implications concerning enslavement, raiding, piracy, and Muslim-Christian conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean during the same period.


Al-Tikriti Joins BBC Radio Panel

On September 12, Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti joined an evening panel of Fredericksburg area residents to discuss potential U.S. military intervention in Syria. The panel was organized by Fredericksburg Patch and the BBC’s Nuala McGovern, and was broadcast on BBC World Service during a four hour long world news show. In the course of the panel, Al-Tikriti expressed his reservations about a potential U.S. intervention, as both an area studies expert and experienced relief professional. For a posting explaining more about the broadcast, see: