Zeinab Azarbadegan


Zeinab Azarbadegan completed her PhD at Columbia University in June 2021. Her doctoral thesis, "Bloodless Battles: Contested Sovereignty between the Ottomans, the Qajars, and the British in Ottoman Iraq (1831-1908)," studied how production of scientific knowledge about the space of Ottoman Iraq was utilized in the inter-imperial rivalries between the Ottomans, the Qajars in Iran and the British. Her thesis has won the Howard and Natalie Shawn Prize for the best dissertation (modern period) in the Department of History at Columbia University. Before joining Oxford as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in April 2023, she held the same position at LSE from September 2022 and she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Vienna School of International Studies AY 2021-2022

Zeinab's current project, "Citizenship Beyond Borders: Extraterritoriality in Nineteenth Century Ottoman Iraq," examine assertion of multiple sovereignties over the population of Ottoman Iraq. It does this by examining the significance of the evolution of the concept of "tabiiyyet" – originally an Arabic word variously translated as subjecthood, citizenship, and nationality among other words – and comparative close reading of the administrative and diplomatic archives of the Ottoman, Qajar, and British empires. The case of Ottoman Iraq is distinctive, in that it provides an opportunity to compare how the Qajars, a non-European empire, utilized the same extraterritorial rights granted to European empires to redefine their relationship to their subjects outside their territory. Yet, it further provides an opportunity to compare the Qajar case with the British protection of their subjects in the same space.

Zeinab is a long-time producer at the Ottoman History Podcast and the co-curator of the Palestine From Above Exhibition (Sep 2021-Jan 2022) at the Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, Palestine. She has been a contributor and cataloguer at the Manuscripts of the Muslim World Project (MWM), funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and a researcher and translator at the Leverhulme Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage Project at the Orient Institute in University of Oxford. 



Peer-Reviewed Papers

Zeinab Azarbadegan, “Ottomans and Iranians at Ctesiphon,” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 8:1 (2021): 377-386.

Zeinab Azarbadegan, "The World-Revealing Goblet: Reading Farhād Mīrzā’s Geographical Treatise Jām-i Jam as a Lithograph," Philological Encounters. 5:3-4 (2020): 409-449.

Zeynep Çelik and Zeinab Azarbadegan, "Late Ottoman Visions of Palestine: Railroads, Maps, and Aerial Photography," Jerusalem Quarterly 82 (2020): 87-109.

Zeinab Azarbadegan, "Imagined Geographies, Re-invented Histories: Ottoman Iraq as Part of Iran," Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. 5 (2018): 115-141.



Zeinab Azarbadegan, "Eurasian Worlds Interrupted: Shi’i Religious Networks after Russia’s Conquest of the South Caucasus," in Eileen Kane, Masha Kirasirova, and Margaret Litvin (eds.), Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023).


Editor of Special Issue

Zeinab Azarbadegan & Mohammad Sadegh Ansari. "Making a Hidden Collection Visible: Columbia’s Collection of Muslim World Manuscripts," Philological Encounters. 5:3-4 (2020): 255-257. 



Zeinab Azarbadegan, "Ottoman Arcadia: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886): ANAMED, May 10, 2018-September 30,2018 (Extended to May 5, 2019),” International Journal of Islamic Architecture. 9.1 (2020): 209-222