Alexander Balistreri

9th-year Ph.D. student
Email Address:
Office Location: 
Jones Hall

When I began learning Turkish in 2003, I had no idea that I was embarking on a journey that would lead me to an academic career. Now well into my Ph.D. program in Princeton, I have devoted myself to studying the modern history of Turkey, the Caucasus, and the surrounding regions.

I graduated with highest honors from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where I studied political science and languages and cultures of Asia. My life as a graduate student began with a master's degree in Princeton University's Program in Near Eastern Studies. Spending several years abroad, I earned a second master's degree in Turkish Studies from Sabancı University in Istanbul.

Now in my seventh year at Princeton's Department of Near Eastern Studies, I am nearing completion of my dissertation. My research examines the nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of the polyethnic Anatolian-Caucasian borderland. More broadly, I am interested in how modern states interact with their populations; my academic production focuses on concepts like sovereignty, legitimacy, violence, political opposition, and nationalism.

I am committed to sharing my research in multiple forums. To date, I have given public lectures presenting my ongoing research in the United States, Germany, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. At the university level, I have designed and taught my own undergraduate course on the modern history of the Caucasus. Furthermore, I have served as teaching assistant for six semesters.

I took my general examinations in Modern Ottoman and Turkish History ( Hanioğlu ), Modern Caucasian History (Reynolds), and Modern Middle Eastern History (Weiss). I have fluent command of English, German, and Turkish, while I also make use of Russian, Persian, and several other languages in my research.

Courses Taught

University of Basel  

Fall 2017 – Nationalism and Revolution in the Caucasus, 1878–1945

Teaching Assistantships

Princeton University

Fall 2016 – Political Islamism (Haykel)

Fall 2012 – The Making of the Modern Middle East (Weiss)

Spring 2007 – Political and Economic Development of the Middle East (Taylor)

Sabancı University

Fall 2009 – Humanity and Society II (introduction to history and social sciences) (Berktay)

Spring 2010 – Humanity and Society II (Şekercioğlu)

Fall 2011 – Humanity and Society II (Şekercioğlu)

Publications List: 

Book Chapters

“A Provisional Republic in the Southwest Caucasus: Discourses of Self-Determination on the Ottoman-Caucasian Frontier, 1918–’19,” in The Ottoman East: Trans-regionalism, Fluid Identities and Local Politics in the 19th and 20th Centuries, ed. Ali Sipahi, Dzovinar Derderian, and Yasar Tolga Cora (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016).


“Turkey’s Forgotten Political Opposition: The Demise of Kadirbeyoğlu Zeki Bey, 1919–1927,” Die Welt des Islams 55: 2 (July 2015), 141–85. [LINK]

* Winner of Brill Publishers’ first “Middle East and Islamic Studies Early-Career Paper Prize”

“Kars’ta Kızıl Bayrak: Bir Rus Askerinin Şubat Devrimi Hatıraları,” Toplumsal Tarih 253 (Ocak 2015), 34–39.

Book Reviews

Book Review of Jamil Hasanli, Stalin and the Turkish Crisis of the Cold War, 1945–1953, Journal of the Ottoman and Turkısh Studıes Association 4: 2 (November 2017) [forthcoming].

Book Review of Sonya Mirzoyan and Candan Badem, The Construction of the Tiflis-Aleksandropol-Kars Railway (1895–1899), Central Asian Survey 34: 1 (2015), 144–45. [LINK]


Courses Taught

University of Basel  

Fall 2017 – Nationalism and Revolution in the Caucasus, 1878–1945