Jonathan Lohnes

Graduate Student


Though I am an Ottoman historian by training, I approach my field from a global, interdisciplinary perspective. My research addresses the formation of modern states and indigenous resistance to the territorial ambitions of dynastic and colonial empires, exploring themes such as colonial war, geopolitics, and social mobilization from below.

My dissertation, Insurgent Geographies, investigates the colonial production of territorial space in Ottoman and post-Ottoman Libya, covering the century between Istanbul’s reconquest of the Saharan interior in 1835 and the end of the Second Italian-Libyan War in 1931.

In the Ottoman spatial and historiographical imagination, the Libyan provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan primarily figure as sleepy desert outposts: remote, enigmatic, and dislocated from the political dynamism of the imperial center. I turn this conception on its head, recasting the Empire’s African frontier as an unlikely nucleus of late imperial politics and mirror of global struggles.

My current research is supported by grants and fellowships from Koç University, the Institute of Turkish Studies, Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Hoover Institute Library and Archive at Stanford University, and Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

My post-dissertation work examines the global Cold War from the vantage point of the NATO Incirlik Airbase in Adana, Turkey.

Advisors:   Mostafa Minawi and Raymond Craib

International Affiliation:

  • Koç University, Istanbul

Examination Fields:

  • Ottoman Empire
  • Middle East
  • Imperialism and Geography


Research Focus

  • Global History
  • Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Middle East
  • Libya
  • Imperialism and Colonialism
  • Historical Geography
  • Armed Struggle and Counterinsurgency
  • Fascism


“Reluctant Militants: Colonialism, Territory, and Sanusi Resistance on the Ottoman-Saharan Frontier” in Journal of Historical Sociology (forthcoming in fall of 2021 or spring of 2022)