Peter Kitlas

7th-year Ph.D. student
Email Address:
Office Location: 
Jones Hall

My undergraduate education in religious studies from Dartmouth College sparked my interests in the intellectual and religious history of the Mediterranean. After graduation, with the intention of learning more about the region from a first-hand perspective, I spent two years in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer. It was here, in a small Middle Atlas village, that my interests in Moroccan history blossomed. As I learned more about the language, culture, and the people I became increasingly absorbed by the unique characteristics and history of the region. When I returned from Morocco I received FLAS funding to pursue an MA in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan. Through this interdisciplinary program I was able to put my first hand experiences into a broader regional context and better define my specific interests in the field of intellectual history. 
My current research focuses on diplomatic relations in the seventeenth and eighteenth century Muslim Mediterranean. While my primary lens is that of the historian, my broader inquiries look at expressions of Islamic identity and religio-political power in Morocco, the Ottoman Empire, and across the Mediterranean. To uncover these complex attributes, I employ both Arabic and Ottoman ambassadorial sources in an attempt to better define the world-views and perspectives of individual ambassadors. In this way, my research seeks to reevaluate the static understanding of ‘Islamic’ diplomatic history in the early modern period. I argue that this closer examination of ambassadors as members of the intellectual community allows a more in depth analysis of the opinions and intent of Moroccan and Ottoman religio-political elite—a group not well represented in current diplomatic or intellectual histories. By highlighting this social stratum I hope to shed light on the complexities of intra-Islamic relations from political, social, and cultural perspectives. 


Al-Miknāsī’s Mediterranean Mission: Negotiating Moroccan Temporal and Spiritual Sovereignty in the Late Eighteenth Century, Mediterranean Studies Journal, vol. 23, 2. Penn State University Press, 2015. (pp. 170–194)