Heather Ferguson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History



Areas of Expertise

Early Modern Statecraft
Evolution of Muslim Societies
History of Ethics
Legal History
Middle East
Ottoman History
Urban and Architectural Change


Heather received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas- Austin and a Ph.D. from the University of California- Berkeley. After completing a two-year postdoctoral position at Stanford University with the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and History Departments, she joined the faculty at Claremont McKenna and is now an Associate Professor of Ottoman and Middle Eastern History. Heather is an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2014-2015, for her book project entitled The Proper Order of Things: Language, Power and Law in Ottoman Administrative Discourses published by Stanford University Press in May 2018. Currently, she is working on a second monograph supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend grant, 2019, and an American Council of Learned Societies Burkhardt Fellowship (2020) that explores Sovereign Valedictions: Archival Ventures and “Last Acts” in Ottoman and Habsburg Courts, and her research focuses broadly on comparative early modern empires, documentary genres and discourses of power, linkages between archives and state governance, as well as on legal and urban transformations around the Mediterranean. She serves as Editor of the Review of Middle East Studies, Associate Editor for the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and was an inaugural member of the Claremont Faculty Leadership Program. Heather remains committed to interdisciplinary and multi-perspectival approaches in research, teaching, and service.

And as you search for meaning with fancy metaphors, think upon others, who have lost their right to words. –Mahmoud Darwish


University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.; University of Texas at Austin, Masters of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies

Awards and Affiliations

Review of Middle East Studies


International Journal of Islamic Architecture

Associate Editor

American Council of Learned Societies Burkhardt Fellowship, 2020 (deferred to 2020-21).

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Research Stipend, 2019.

American Council of Learned Societies

Faculty Fellow, 2014-2015

Gould Center for Humanistic Studies

Faculty Research Grant, Summer 2012

Center for Middle East Studies, University of California, Berkeley

al-Falah Dissertation Grant, Fall 2008

American Research Institute in Turkey

Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2003-2004

Ford Foundation Research Grant

Social Science Concepts in Area Studies, Summer 1998

Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS)

Summer Fellowship: the University of California, Berkeley (2000, 2001), the University of Texas at Austin (1997, 1998)

Academic Year Fellowship: the University of California, Berkeley (2000-01), the University of Texas at Austin (1997-98 and 1998-99)​

Research and Publications

The Proper Order of Things: Language, Power, and Law in Ottoman Administrative Discourses (Stanford University Press, 2018).

"New Texts Out Now" Interview with Jadaliyya

Current Book Project: Sovereign Valedictions: Archival Ventures and “Last Acts” in Ottoman and Habsburg Courts

“Unseating ‘State’ and ‘Archive’: Mobility and Manipulation in Past Environments and Present Praxis,” Itinerario 2020:3 (forthcoming).

“Language, Power, and Law in the Ottoman Empire,” Ottoman History Podcast, Episode 441, December 13, 2019. http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2019/12/language-power-ottoman-empire.html

“Ottomans, Ottomanists, and the State: Redefining an Ethos of Power in the Long Sixteenth Century,” for Halcyon Days of Crete IX (Crete University Press, 2018).

“Producing Islamic History: Schemes of Medieval and Modern and the Racialization of the Past,” co-presented with David Moshfegh. Chronologics: Periodisation in a Global Context, Berlin, December 7-9, 2017.

“From Hyperbole to Bureaucracy: Ottoman and Habsburg Courtly Rivalries,” In Iacobus: Revista de Estudios Jacobeos Y Medievales, memorial issue for Louis Cardaillac (Issue 33-34, 2015), 265-90.

"Occupying the Future." The Tahrir Forum of the Cairo Review (November 29, 2011).

"Genres of Power: Constructing a Discourse of Decline in Ottoman Nasihatname." In Osmanli Arastirmalari Dergisi /The Journal of Ottoman Studies (Issue 35, 2010) 81-116.

"Reading Kanunname: Law and Governance in the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Empire." In The International Journal of the Humanities 6 (2007-08).

"Property, Language, and Law: Conventions of Social Discourse in Seventeenth-century Tarablus al-Sham." In Beshara Doumani, ed., The Family in Middle Eastern History (New York: SUNY Press, 2002).

“Abudurrahman Atçıl, Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017). Pp. 260. $75.00 Cloth. ISBN: 9781107177162.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 4 (2018): 800–802. doi:10.1017/S0020743818000995.

Thursday, 09:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Tuesday, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.