Dr. Ümit Kurt

Areas of specialization:

Ottoman history, Early Turkish Republic, Intellectual History, Socio-Economic History, Mass Violence, Ethnicity and National Studies

Areas of competence:

Armenian genocide, Comparative Genocides, Local Historiography, Early Modern Turkish Nationalism, Transformation of Wealth


Ümit Kurt a historian of the modern Middle East, with a research focus on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. He specializes in the late Ottoman socio-economic history, Armenian genocide, mass/collective violence and interethnic conflicts. His broader training also includes the comparative empires, population movements, history of the Ottoman urban and local elites, wealth transfer and nationalism.

His research focuses on the elite-making process that have been largely absent from historical writings on the Middle East. By situating the physical and material destruction of Armenians within context of the creation/construction of Turkish-Muslim urban elite in Aintab, modern day Gaziantep, his work provides a comparative case for the elite formation and its social repercussions in the Eastern Mediterranean. His work shows that within the crucible of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, World War I, and the advent of late European colonialism, a discrete urban bourgeoisie elite/class took shape. It was defined not just by the wealth, professions, possessions, or the levels of education of its members, but also by the way they acquire this wealth and status which was at the expense of Armenian Christians. In this way, he contributes to the global historiographies of state and nation formation, elite and bourgeoisie making processes, economic nationalization, and collective violence.


  • The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide, co-authored with Taner Akçam (New York: Berghahn Books, 2015).
  • “The Curious Case of Ahmed Necmeddin Bey: A Look into the Sociopolitical Climate in Aintab on the Eve of 1915”, Middle Eastern Studies, 52 (5), 2016, pp. 804-824.
  • “The Young Turk Historical Imagination in the Pursuit of Mythical Turkishness and its Lost Grandeur (1911-1914)”, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 44 (4), 2016, pp. 1-15.
  • “Legal and Official Plunder of Armenian and Jewish Properties in Comparative Perspective: The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust”, Journal of Genocide Research, 17 (3), 2015, pp. 305-326.
  • “The Balkan Wars and the Rise of the Reactionary Modernist Utopia in Young Turk Thought and the Journal Türk Yurdu (Turkish Homeland)”, Nations and Nationalism, 21 (2), 2015, pp. 348-368.