A Slave Between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa (Columbia University Press, 2020) by M’hamed Oualdi, a former member of the Near Eastern Studies faculty, was awarded honorable mention in the Nikki Keddie Book Award competition held by the Middle East Studies Association. The citation for the honor reads: “Oualdi’s book stands out among several impressive books that de-center and reorient Middle Eastern history by following illuminating travelers. It is focused on a former Caucasian slave who becomes an Ottoman dignitary in Tunisia, from where he is posted to Italy. The book examines the complex arbitration of his estate following his death there. Oualdi’s historiographical positioning of this story shows that the Ottoman era in Tunisia did not simply cease with the arrival of the French. This represents a considerable intervention into the periodization and conceptualization of North African history. The book is admirably readable and creatively insightful in its use of a rich evidentiary base.”
The Nikki Keddie Book Award was established in 2017 to recognize outstanding scholarly work in the area of religion, revolution, and/or society. The annual award was named for Nikki Keddie to recognize her long and distinguished career as a scholar and teacher.
Oualdi is the third scholar with Near Eastern Studies connections to be honored in the Nikki Keddie Book Award competition, which is only in its third year. In 2018 Orit Baskin (Ph.D. 2005) was a co-winner for her book Impossible Exodus: Iraqi Jews in Israel (Stanford University Press, 2017), and her fellow co-winner was Kevan Harris, a postdoc in Near Eastern Studies 2012–2014, for his book A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran (University of California Press, 2017).