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Michael Provence

Michael Provence teaches modern Middle East history, focusing on the 20th century Arab East. He received the B.A in History from U.C. Berkeley in 1994 and the Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2001. During 2017-2018 he was  Chercheur Résident (Research Fellow in Residence),  Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Nantes, France.  In 2010-11 and 2014 Provence was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, Germany.

He is the author of two books and many articles. The books are The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism (2005), also translated and widely reviewed in Arabic as al-Thawra al-Suriyya al-Wataniyya,  and The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2017), selected a Choice Outstanding Academic Title in 2018.

Provence lived and studied over the course of many years in several Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria and Lebanon between 1998 and 2006. He returns as often as possible.

  • The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 2017, Cambridge University Press.
  • The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism, University of Texas Press, Modern Middle East Series, No. 22, 2005.
  • Al-Thawra al-Sūriyya al-Wataniyya, (Arabic translation of the Great Syrian Revolt). Revised and updated with additional material, including maps and photos, for the Arabic edition. Cadmus Press, Damascus, 2012.
  • The Levant Mandates,” in the Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Middle East and North African Historyedited by Jens Hanssen and Amal Ghazal, Oxford University Press 2016.
  • "Tarika al-cUthmāniyīn bacd hazīmatum fī 1918," (“Legacies of Ottoman Defeat after 1918),” (in Arabic), in The Great War in the Middle East, edited by Wajih Kawtharani, 2016. Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies Press, Lebanon and Qatar.
  • “Surviving the Cold War at AUB: the Thomas Aquinas Affair of 1966,” in AUB: A Century and a Half, edited by Nadia Shaikh. AUB Press, 2016. AUB Press, Lebanon.
  • “Kamal Salibi and the Historians of the Arab East (in Arabic),” in Kamāl Salībī: Al-Insān wal-Mū'arrikh, edited by Abdul-Rahim Abu Husayn, 2016. Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies Press, Lebanon and Qatar.
  • “Legitimidad y discurso entre el estado y la revolución en Siria ,”in Mundo árabe: levantamientos populares, contextos, crisis y reconfiguraciones, Gilberto Conde, Camila Pastor and Marta Tawil (eds.) México: El  Colegio de México and CIDE (2016), (in Spanish) ,Mexico.
  • French Mandate Counterinsurgency and the Repression of the Great Syrian Revolt,” in The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates, edited by Cyrus Schayegh and Andrew Arsan, 2015. UK.
  • “Unraveling the Syrian Revolution,” special edition on the Arab Spring Regions & Cohesion, vol. 2, no. 3, 2012.
  • “Colonial Origins of the Syrian Security State,” in al-Adab8-9, (in Arabic) Co-authored with Jamal Wakim, August, 2011. Also published in al-Akhbar English.
  • "Ottoman Modernity, Colonialism, and Insurgency in the Arab East," International Journal of Middle East Studies, [IJMES] 43, special edition, June 2011
  • "Liberal Colonialism and Martial Law in French Mandate Syria," In Liberal Thought in the Eastern Mediterranean," edited by Christoph Schumann, Brill, 2008.
  • NPR-Here and Now June 2017.
  • “Parallels Between Japanese Internment and Muslim Ban?” with Simeon Man, San Diego Union Tribune, 18 February 2017
  • “Iraq War: Ten Years of Consequences,” UT San Diego (Formerly San Diego Union-Tribune), 8 March 2013 [pdf] and UCSD-TV Broadcast.
  • Interview on Syrian protest movement, April 2012.
  • "Two Eras of Revolution, A Generation Apart," San Diego Union Tribune, 24 February 2011.
  • Interview with journalist Anthony Shadid
  • "America's Real Choices in Iraq," With James Rauch, UCSD Economics Department, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 October 2007.
  • "A Year After the Lebanon War," San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 July 2007. Add link for attached article #2.
  • Radio Interview on the Lebanon War, KPBS-NPR, These Days, 31 July, 2006. (mp3)
  • Radio Interview from Beirut, Lebanon, KPBS-NPR, These Days, 19 December 2005. (mp3)
  • Radio Interview on The Great Syrian Revolt, on KPBS-NPR, These Days, 24 August 2005. (mp3)
  • "How the U.S. Can Withdraw from Iraq," San Diego Union Tribune, 25 July 2005.
  • "The Promised Peace in the Middle East?" San Diego Union Tribune, 19 January 2005.
  • "America and the Future of Iraq" San Diego Union Tribune, 9 September 2004.
  • "When Other Western Powers Failed in the Mideast,"Dallas Morning News, 14 April 2003. [pdf]

Instructional Materials for Middle Eastern History

Photo Essay on the Ottoman Train system

Photo Essay on Syria

Documentary on the Emergence of the Modern Middle East

Colonial rule, resistance, and nationalism in the Arab Ottoman successor states of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. US policy in the post-Colonial Middle East.


  • Graduate Research Seminar in late Ottoman and mandate Middle East history
  • Graduate reading seminar in modern Middle East history
  • HINE 119. US-Post WWII Middle East
  • HINE 186. Middle East Research Seminar
  • HINE 116. The Middle East in the Age of European Empires, 1798-1920
  • HINE 199. Research Topics in Middle East History
  • INTL 190. Senior Seminar in modern Middle East Studies