Professor Marc David Baer

Professor Marc David Baer

Professor

Department of International History

Room No
SAR.3.17
Languages
English, German, Turkish
Key Expertise
Early Modern and Modern Europe and Middle East

About me

Marc David Baer (PhD, History, University of Chicago) is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of many books: Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), winner, Albert Hourani Prize, Middle East Studies Association of North America, Best Book in Middle East Studies, translated into Turkish as IV. Mehmet Döneminde Osmanlı Avrupa'sında İhtida ve Fetih(Istanbul: Hil, 2010); The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010), translated into Turkish as Selânikli Dönmeler: Musevilikten Dönenler, Müslüman Devrimciler, ve Laik Türkler (Istanbul: Doğan, 2011), and translated into Greek as Οι ντονμε τησ θεσσαλονικησ: Εξισλαμισθέντες Εβραίοι, Επαναστάτες Μουσουλμάνοι, Κοσμικοί Τούρκοι (Thessaloniki: Epikentro, 2020); At Meydanı'nda Ölüm: 17. Yüzyıl İstanbul'unda Toplumsal Cinsiyet, Hoşgörü veİhtida (Death on the Hippodrome: Gender, Tolerance, and Conversion in 17th century Istanbul) (Istanbul: Koç Yayınları, 2016); German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus and Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide.

In addition, he has published works on Turks in Germany including “Mistaken for Jews: Turkish PhD Students in Nazi Germany” (German Studies Review) and “Turk and Jew in Berlin: The First Turkish Migration to Berlin and the Shoah” (Comparative Studies in Society & History) as well as German-Jewish converts to Islam including “Protestant Islam in Weimar Germany: Hugo Marcus and ‘The Message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to Europe.’” (New German Critique) and “Muslim Encounters with Nazism and the Holocaust: The Ahmadi of Berlin and German-Jewish Convert to Islam Hugo Marcus" (The American Historical Review).

Marc David Baer published two books in 2020. The first, released in March 2020 with the Indiana Series in Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies, Indiana University Press, is called Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide (winner of the 2021 Dr Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies by the by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research). Baer confronts long-standing convictions about harmonious Turkish-Jewish relations to reflect on what moral responsibility the descendants of the victims of one genocide have to the descendants and victims of another. He delves into the history of Muslim-Jewish relations in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey to tease out the origin of these many tangled truths. In this, he aims to bring about reconciliation between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, not only to face inconvenient historical facts, but to confront it and come to terms with it. By looking at the complexities of interreligious relations, Holocaust denial, democide and ethnic cleansing, and confronting some long-standing historical stereotypes, Baer sets out to tell a new history that goes against Turkish antisemitism and admits to the Armenian genocide.

The second, entitled German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus was released in April 2020 with the Religion, Culture, and Public Life series, Columbia University Press. Hugo Marcus (1880-1966) was born a German-Jew, but converted to Islam, becoming one of the most prominent Muslims in Germany prior to the Second World War. He was also a gay man who never called himself so but fought for homosexual rights and wrote queer fiction under the pen name Hans Alienus during his decades of exile. Baer uses Marcus’s life and work to shed new light on a striking range of subjects, including German Jewish history and anti-Semitism, Islam in Europe, Muslim-Jewish relations, and the history of the gay rights struggle. He explores how Marcus created a unique synthesis of being German, gay and Muslim that positioned Goethe as an intellectual and spiritual model. Marcus’s life offers a new perspective on notions of sexuality and competing conceptions of gay identity in the multilayered world of interwar and postwar Europe.

The Ottoman Empire has long been depicted as the Islamic, Asian antithesis of the Christian, European West. But the reality was starkly different: the Ottomans' domain was multiethnic, multilingual, and multireligious, reaching deep into Europe's heart. Indeed, as it expanded across Eastern Europe, Asia, and North Africa, the Ottomans saw their empire as the new Rome. In The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs (Basic Books, 2021), I offer a major new history of the Ottoman dynasty, recounting their remarkable rise from a frontier principality to a world empire, and trace their debts to their Turkish, Mongolian, Islamic, and Byzantine heritage. Rulers viewed themselves as both devout Muslims and the rightful successors to the Roman Empire, calling themselves not only khans and sultans but also caliphs, emperors, and caesars. They managed their vast empire by striking a delicate balance: for most of the dynasty's existence, the Ottomans pioneered principles of religious tolerance, even as they used religious conversion to integrate conquered peoples and populate the ruling class. But in the nineteenth century, the dynasty embraced exclusivity and intolerance, leading to ethnic cleansing, genocide, and ultimately the empire's demise after the First World War. The Ottomans vividly reveals the dynasty's full history and its enduring impact on Europe and the world.

 

Other titles: Deputy Head of Department

Expertise Details

Early Modern and Modern Europe and Middle East; Ottoman Empire; Turkey; Germany

Teaching & supervision

Professor Marc David Baer usually teaches the following courses in the Department:

At undergraduate level:

HY118: Faith, Power and Revolution: Europe and the Wider World, c.1500-c.1800 (taught jointly with other members of the Department)

HY247: The History of Modern Turkey, 1789 to the Present

At postgraduate level:

HY459: The Ottoman Empire and its Legacy, 1299-1950

Professor Baer is supervising the following PhD students:

 Research student  Provisional thesis title
Yener Bayar The Life and Work of Mustafa Reshid Pasha, Nineteenth Century Ottoman Reformer
Sinan Ekim Towards a “New” Turkishness: Islam, Education and the Making of the “Good Citizen” in the 1950s
Omar Nasr Before ‘Gastarbeiter’: The Institutional, Intellectual and Social history of Muslims in Austria from 1918 to the 1960’s.
Xiwen Yang TBC

Publications

Professor Marc David Baer’s research focuses on the connected histories of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in European and Middle Eastern history, from the early modern era to the modern.

His first book, Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford, 2008, Turkish translation, IV. Mehmet Döneminde Osmanlı Avrupasında İhtida ve Fetih, Hil, 2010), analyzes how Muslim proselytizers conceived and practiced converting other Muslims, as well as Christians and Jews to their interpretation of Islam. Honored by the Glory of Islam was awarded the Albert Hourani Prize of the Middle East Studies Association of North America as the best book in Middle East Studies, 2008. The monograph was also short listed as the best first book in the History of Religions by the American Academy of Religion, 2009. He ends Honored by the Glory of Islam with the conversion to Islam of a group of messianic Jews in seventeenth-century Ottoman Salonika, which is the focus of his second monograph, The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford, 2010; Turkish translation, Selânikli Dönmeler: Musevilikten Dönenler, Müslüman Devrimciler, ve Laik Türkler, Doğan, 2011; Greek translation, Οι ντονμε τησ θεσσαλονικησ: Εξισλαμισθέντες Εβραίοι, Επαναστάτες Μουσουλμάνοι, Κοσμικοί Τούρκοι, Epikentro, 2020). The Dönme is the first complete history of a secretive Ottoman community from its origins to its dissolution in twentieth-century Istanbul. The Dönme was named finalist, Sephardic Culture category at the National Jewish Book Awards, 2010.

Dr Baer's subsequent book, At Meydanı’nda Ölüm: 17. Yüzyıl İstanbul'unda Toplumsal Cinsiyet, Hoşgörü ve İhtida (Death on theHippodrome: Gender, Tolerance, and Conversion in 17th century Istanbul), was published in Turkish in Istanbul by Koç Yayınları in 2016.

In early 2020 both Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide (Indian University Press) and German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus (Columbia University Press) were released. The former was awarded the 2021 Dr Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies by the by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research.

In October 2021, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs was published by Basic Books.

In addition to these monographs, he has written a number of academic articles and chapters, including:

Books

News & media

2022


Edinburgh International Book Festival 

Discussed his book, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 20 August 2022

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Appeared on the History Hit podcast 

Appeared on the UK's #1 history podcast, Dan Snow's History Hit, to offer A Short History of the Ottoman Empire. Listen to the podcast.

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Interviewed by New/Lines Magazine

Professor Baer was interviewed for the New/Lines Magazine podcast, "The Rise of the House of Osman — with Marc David Baer" on 22 July 2022. Listen to the podcast.

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Interviewed by New Books Network

Recent book, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus was featured in the New Books Network. Read the interview

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Little Atoms podcast

Appeared on the Little Atoms podcast to discuss his book, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs. Along with other nominees for the 2022 Wolfson Prize. 

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BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking podcast

Interviewed on BBC Radio 3's "Free Thinking" by host Rana Mitter alongside the other short-listed nominees for the 2022 Wolfson Prize. 

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Wolfson Prize

Professor Baer's book 'The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs' (Basic Books) was shortlisted for the 2022 Wolfson History Prize.

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Jaipur Literature Festival Interview

In conversation with William Dalrymple at the 2022 Jaipur Literature Festival, Professor Baer unraveled Western notions of sexuality, orientalism, genocide, and history itself, through the chronicles of a formidable world of the Ottoman Empire.

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Interview at London Jewish Book Week

Watch this new interview from London Jewish Book Week. Thanks in part to the Ottomans, for much of history Jews have had a positive image of Muslims. In this interview, he discusses his new book "The Ottomans" and charts the intimate relations between Jews and the Ottoman dynasty from the arrival of the expelled Iberian Jews in the fifteenth century to the end of empire in the twentieth century.

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Lahore Literary Festival

From 18-20 March, Professor Baer spoke at the Lahore Literary Festival on his new book "The Ottomans". The festival features an array of acclaimed international and national authors and artists in thought provoking panel discussions.

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Lecture at the SOAS Middle East Institute

Professor Baer spoke at an online lecture at the SOAS Middle East Institute on his new book "The Ottomans". Watch the recording.

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New Podcast Interview

On February 23, Professor Baer spoke with Andrew Keen on the "Keen On" podcast about his new book "The Ottomans" and the Ottoman Empire's enduring impact on Europe and the world.

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Featured on the Short History Of... Podcast

The story of the Ottoman Empire is one of surprising alliances and enemies, trade, war and progress. But who were its leaders? How did it become so powerful? And after its eventual collapse, what legacy did it leave behind? Check out the 21 February episode of "Short History Of ... the Ottoman Empire" featuring Professor Baer, who discusses his latest book "The Ottomans" and these questions. 

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Asian Review of Books Podcast Interview

New interview with Professor Baer with the Asian Review of Books on his new book "The Ottomans"! They discuss Ottoman empire’s rise and “fall", and its legacy, both for Europe and the wider world.

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SOAS Live Webinar

Professor Marc David Baer will present at a SOAS live webinar about his recent book "The Ottomans" on 8 March at 5:30pm, chaired by Narguess Farzad (SOAS) and Dina Matar (SOAS).

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Ottoman History Podcast

Part 2 of the Ottoman History Podcast interview with Professor Marc David Baer was released on 29 January. In this episode, which covers his book Sultanic Saviours, he explains how the history of Ottoman Jews became part and parcel of a narrative that contrasted the Ottoman Empire's beneficence and tolerance with the anti-Semitism of other European societies. Yet, the image of "Sultanic Saviors" became entangled with the denial not only of anti-Semitism in Turkey but also of violence against Christians in the late Ottoman Empire and the Armenian Genocide. Listen to the podcast

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Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association event

Professor Baer presented his latest book, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs, in conversation with other scholars online for the Ottoman & Turkish Studies Association on 26 January. Read more and watch the event on YouTube.

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Book prize for Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks

He named winner of the 2021 Dr Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies, annually awarded by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), for his book, Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide (2020, Indiana University Press). Read more
 


2021


BBC World Service

Catch up with Professor Baer's appearance as one of two panelists on BBC World Service Weekend Programme on 18 December. Listen to his contributions on the topics of the day - part 1, part 2 and part 3.

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History Hack podcast

After discussing the origins of the Ottoman Empire, Professor Baer returned to History Hack to talk all about the latter part of the Empire and its ultimate decline. Listen here.

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Media appearances

During the month of October, he joined History Hack for a fascinating jaunt through 300 years of Ottoman history. Listen to him talk about his latest book, The Ottomans. He also appeared on the History Film Club podcast to talk about how the Ottomans have been depicted in film and television series(listen to the episode). Later in the month, he discussed Ottoman history in light of his new book on "Letters and Politics" hosted by Mitch Jeserich on radio station KPFA in California and on Australian ABC radio show Late Night Live with Philip Adams. In November, Professor Baer continued to promote his new book in the UK and the world. He appeared in the History Hit, Not Just the Tudors podcast, soon after he was interviewed by Michael Portillo on Times Radio (from 1h36m05s). On 8 November he discussed his book on DublinCityFM's Bookbound programme, he was featured in the Turkey Book Talk podcast on 9 November and he was interviewed on the BBC History Magazine podcast, History Extra on 22 November.

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Book-related events

Professor Baer spoke at the “How To Academy” on 19 October, where he presented his major new history of the Ottoman Empire, The Ottomans, showing how it connected East to West as never before. And on 31 October, he spoke at the Oxford Literary Festival. On 4 November, he visited the European Parliament Liaison Office in London for a public talk with Jason Goodwin.

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New book

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs (Basic Books) was released in October. This new history of the Ottoman dynasty recounts the Ottomans’ remarkable rise from a frontier principality to a world empire, tracing their debts to their Turkish, Mongolian, Islamic, and Byzantine heritage.

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Ottoman History Podcast

Check out the first part of a two-part interview where he discusses approaches to the subject of conversion in the Ottoman Empire and the history of the dönme community borne out of the transformations of the seventeenth century. Listen on SoundCloud.

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Notches Blog

Interviewed in May 2021 for the Notches Blog on his latest book German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus, Dr Baer spoke about how Hugo Marcus's life and work gave him the opportunity to explore not only religious conversion but also the creative, subversive, counterintuitive work people do with hegemonic attempts to classify them. Read more

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Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program visiting speaker at Northwestern University

Professor Baer spoke on his book Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks (Indiana University Press, 2020) which sets out to tell a new history that goes against Turkish antisemitism and admits to the Armenian genocide by looking at the complexities of interreligious relations, Holocaust denial, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and confronting some long-standing historical stereotypes. Find out more


2020


New article

Professor Baer released an article in the Münchner Beiträge zur Judischen Geschichte und Kultur (Munich Contributions to Jewish History and Culture). “’Sinning zwischen beiden Welten’. Der Intellektuelle Hugo Marcus und die Agmadiyya-Bewegung zur Verbreitung des Islam’ (14:2, 2020) is part of the journal’s series on Jews and Muslims in Germany in the interwar period. Read it here

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Book interview

Read Professor Baer's interview on one of his latest books, Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks, for Jadaliyya (9 November 2020).

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Podcast 

Listen to episode 3 of the International History Now podcast, where Professor Baer shares his views on the Cultural Crises in the Pandemic. Hagia Sophia as a Mosque (August 1, 2020).

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Practices of relation

In "Practices of relation" (The Immanent Frame: Secularism, Religion and the Public Sphere, 20 July 2020) Professor Baer and Sarah Imhoff discuss eachother's latest works and the ways they intersect.

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Second book out

Released by Columbia University Press, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus uses the unconventional story of Hugo Marcus to reveal new aspects of the interconnected histories of Jewish and Muslim individuals and communities, including Muslim responses to Nazism and Muslim experiences of the Holocaust. Read more

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Opinion piece in Haaretz

Professor Baer contributed an opinion piece to Haaretz (23 April) on how prominent Jews, from Turkish chief rabbis to Israel’s presidents to US lay leaders, have propped up Turkey’s Armenian genocide denial. That’s only just begun to change. Read it here.

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New book released by Indiana University Press

Professor Baer’s latest book Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks was released by Indiana University Press in March. Professor Baer sheds light into what compels Jews in the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, and abroad to promote a positive image of Ottomans and Turks while they deny the Armenian genocide and the existence of antisemitism in Turkey. Read more about the book in the publisher's website.


2018


Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship awarded

Professor Baer was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship for 2018-19. This award will allow Professor Baer, a scholar of the connected histories of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Europe and Middle East, from the early modern era to the modern, to complete his work on the project “Guided by Goethe: German-Jewish Gay Muslim Writer Hugo Marcus, 1880-1966”. German Jew Hugo Marcus (1880-1966) is the only man to have played an important role in the world’s first gay rights movement and in establishing Islam in Europe. His life and work shed new light on the history of Islam in Europe, Muslim-Jewish relations, and the gay rights struggle. Despite his significance, Marcus is relatively unknown. What is published about him does not incorporate his being German, Jewish, Muslim, and gay. Professor Baer plans to utilise his twelve-month Leverhulme Research Fellowship to write the first biography of Marcus, based on his German-language publications, speeches, private correspondence, and personal documents.


2017


Taz editorial

On 10 June, Professor Baer contributed an editorial article to the Berlin portal Taz on the Turkish President Recep Erdogan's antisemitic patterns of thought. Read it in the publication's website [in german].


2016


New book

Professor Marc David Baer's new book was released in May 2016. The book, published in Turkish, is a collection of his articles and it’s called At Meydanı’nda Ölüm: 17. Yüzyıl İstanbul'unda Toplumsal Cinsiyet, Hoşgörü ve İhtida (Death on theHippodrome: Gender, Tolerance, and Conversion in 17th century Istanbul). Read more about it.


2015


Professor Marc David Baer at CRASSH

Professor Marc Baer gave a presentation on "Conspiracy Theories about Jews in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey" on 24 November 2015 at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge. The event was part of a series of public talks from the Leverhulme-funded project Conspiracy and Democracy. Read more about the event.

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Professor Marc David Baer's event in Oxford

Professor Marc David Baer gave a lecture at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies on 26 October 2015. The event was part of the David Patterson Lectures. Professor Baer talked about "Jewish accounts of the Ottomans: From Sultanic Saviours to Turkish Rescuers". Read more about the lecture series.