Michael Battalia is a first year PhD student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He works on the intellectual, cultural, and literary history of the modern Middle East during roughly 1850 to 1950. This timeframe covers the late Ottoman period of imperial centralization and modernization, through to the Ottoman defeat in World War I and the subsequent occupation of its lands by the Allied powers, to the emergence of independent yet institutionally weak nation states during the interwar period.
Geographically he is focused on the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Saudi Arabia, and how peninsular societies reacted to this traumatic period of history and attempted to regroup, recover, and chart paths towards a better future. Methodologically, he is interested in environmental, energy, and infrastructure approaches, the role of experts, and transnational discursive communities. His research languages are Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, and Turkish/Ottoman (currently in progress).
In 2019, he earned an MA in History and an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, where he was funded as a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow, a Kellen Scholar, and a Huffington Fellow in Diplomacy. During 2019-2020 he studied Arabic in Amman, Jordan as a Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) Fellow.
Michael was born in southern California, grew up in Lausanne, Switzerland and Surrey, England, and completed his undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics. He then worked for six years as a management consultant based in Beirut, Lebanon, during which time he traveled extensively in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey for project-based work.