Associate Professor of History
ISIS Is Bonkers, It Is Not Re-establishing a Caliphate, and Other Lessons Learned Studying the History of the Middle East
ISIS—the Islamic State, as it likes to style itself—lays a specific claim to history as justification for its legitimacy. How can understanding the history of the region help us to make sense of ISIS and its actions and to nuance our responses to them?
Professor Turner earned a Ph.D. in Near Eastern studies at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the interaction of political and religious authority in premodern Islamic history. He is particularly interested in the categorization and exclusion of heresy and heretics. His book, Inquisition in Early Islam, seeks to explain the role of the eighth- through 10th-century Caliph and the Caliphate in the definition of what it means to be a Muslim. In graduate school Turner also studied modern history with a focus on Syria and Iran, where he studied Arabic (in Damascus) and Persian (in Tehran). His courses range from surveys of the premodern and modern periods in the Middle East to country-specific courses, and he covers eras from the foundations of Islam to the current day.