Department of History

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


  • Ph.D. at University of Chicago, 2007

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Rm. 814


Kaya Sahin

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.

Selected Awards

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2015-2016.

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 2011.

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

Publication Highlights


Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Turkish translation: Kanuni Devrinde Imparatorluk ve Iktidar: Celalzade Mustafa ve 16. Yüzyil Osmanli Dünyasi. Trans. Ahmet Tunç Sen. Istanbul: Yapi Kredi, 2014.


"Courtly Connections: Anthony Sherley's Relation of his Travels 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 Fetvaci, 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.