Ramazan Hakki Öztan


I received my Ph.D. in history in May 2016 from the University of Utah where I studied under the supervision of the late Prof. Peter Sluglett. In 2015, I was a research fellow at the New Europe College, Bucharest, and I then worked as a lecturer at Istanbul Medipol University (2016-2017). Since October 2017, I have been working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of History at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, with Prof. Jordi Tejel for a project funded by the European Research Council, titled “Towards a Decentred History of the Middle East: Transborder Spaces, Circulations, Frontier Effects and State Formation, 1920-1946.”

I define myself as a historian of the modern Middle East, late Ottoman Balkans, and modern Turkey. I am particularly interested in how the fin de siècle nationalism and revolutionary politics contributed to the making of the modern Middle East and South-eastern Europe. I explore these issues by studying smuggling, contraband, and human crossings in borderlands, examining how such global processes manifested themselves locally. I try to uncover them by studying illicit markets and reconstructing the biographies of little-known actors. In doing so, my goal is to re-read the formation of modern states by capturing bureaucratic anxieties vis-à-vis a world that was rapidly changing.

Here in Neuchâtel, I am planning to research three interrelated topics as part of my postdoctoral project. First, I am interested in exploring how the influx of refugees in the early years of the Turkish Republic helped consolidate Turkish identity, expand state authority, and demarcate spatial borders. Second, how did the actors located in the Turkish/Syrian/Iraqi borderlands respond to the consolidation of state authority in the late 1920s and early 1930s? Finally, I hope to examine the ways in which the establishment of borders lead to the creation of illicit markets and the attempts of the state to contain them.


  • “Point of No Return? Prospects of Empire after the Ottoman Defeat in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913),” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 50:1, January (2018)                                                                                               
  • “Tools of Revolution: Global Military Surplus, Arms Dealers, and Smugglers in the Late Ottoman Balkans, 1878-1908,” Past & Present, 237, November (2017).
  • “Nationalism in Function: ‘Rebellions’ in the Ottoman Empire and Narratives in its Absence,” in War and Collapse: World War I and the Ottoman State, ed. H. Yavuz and Feroz Ahmad (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2016) pp. 161-202.


  • “Are we witnessing the Macedonian Question of the 21st Century?” Middle East Monitor, October 16, 2014.
  • “Peasants’ and ‘Plunderers’: Rhetoric of Political Exclusion in Turkey,” Middle East Policy Council, June 24, 2013.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (ERC)


Ramazan Hakki Öztan

Tél. +41 32 718 17 47