Low, Michael Christopher

Senior Humanities Research Fellow Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Email: mcl9657@nyu.edu
Education: BS, University of West Georgia; MA, Georgia State University; MA, MPhil, and PhD, Columbia University

Research Areas: Late Ottoman Empire, Arabian Peninsula, Indian Ocean world, Environmental History, water, infrastructure, desalination technology, energy, climate change, pilgrimage and mobility, medicine and disease, international law


Michael Christopher Low’s primary research interests include the late Ottoman Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean World, and Environmental History. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015 and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Iowa State University.

Low is the author of Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj (Columbia University Press, 2020). Drawing on Ottoman and British archival sources as well as published materials in Arabic and modern Turkish, Imperial Mecca analyzes how the Hijaz and the steamship-era pilgrimage to Mecca simultaneously became objects of Ottoman modernization, global public health, international law, and inter-imperial competition during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Low is also co-editor (with Lâle Can, Kent Schull, and Robert Zens) of The Subjects of Ottoman International Law (Indiana University Press, 2020).

Low’s articles have appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History; Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East; Environment and History; the International Journal of Middle East Studies; and the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Journal of Tourism History.

His research and language training have been supported by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies; Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the David L. Boren National Security Education Program; the Institute of Turkish Studies; Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities; Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

While in residence at NYU Abu Dhabi, Low will be working on a new monograph project and several articles exploring the entangled enviro-technical histories of desalination technology, water production, infrastructure, energy, and climate change in the Arabian Peninsula, the wider Middle East, and more globally.