Personal profile


Peter is a historian of the modern Middle East, specialising in the Arab world in the long nineteenth century. His research focusses on political thought and practice, the politics of religion, and translation and intercultural exchanges. He also has a strong interest in comparative and global history.

Before joining Northumbria University in 2019, Peter was Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford. He has taught and designed modules in the history of the Middle East and global history, and the history of capitalism. In 2023 he was the winner of a Philip Leverhulme Prize in History.

Peter's first book, Utopia and Civilisation in the Arab Nahda, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. He has published several articles on translation, political thought and popular politics in the Middle East, in journals such as Past & Present, the Journal of Arabic Literature, and Journal of Global History. His second book, Prophet of Reason: Science, Religion and the Origins of the Modern Middle East, will be published by Oneworld in spring 2024.

Research interests

Peter's main research interests are in the cultural and intellectual history of the Middle East in the long nineteenth century. He is also interested in global history and histories of capitalism, and in the place of the Middle East within wider historical processes.

Peter's monograph, published in 2020, is a study of the Arab literary and cultural 'revival' (Nahda), looking at the earlier phase of the movement in the 1830s-1870s. The book places the utopian imaginings of Arab intellectuals, in Beirut, Cairo, and Aleppo, within the contexts of expanding capitalism and the building of modern states. Peter has also published articles on literary aspects of the Nahda movement in journals such as PMLA and the Journal of Arabic Literature.

A related strand of his research is on the history of political ideas and forms in the Arab-Ottoman world, and their relationships with European and global trends in the 'age of revolutions' and mid-nineteenth century 'age of capital'. He has published articles on these themes in Past and Present and the Journal of Global History. He currently runs a collaborative research network on 'Reframing the Age of Revolutions'.

Peter has an interest in collaborative research into global history and histories of capitalism, which he has pursued through the Political Economy and  Culture in Global History project. He co-edited a virtual issue of Past and Present on 'Capitalism in Global History', which emerged from these discussions.

Peter's major project at present explores the changing notations of reason and religion in the nineteenth-century Arab-Ottoman world, via a microhistorical study of a Syrian notable and polymath and his changing religious views. This builds, in part, on his earlier work on the first translations into Arabic of European Enlightenment literature. He is a member of the British Society for Middle East Studies (BRISMES) and the Raymond Williams Society.

Education/Academic qualification

DPhil, University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jun 2016

MSt, MSt Oriental Studies, University of Oxford

Award Date: 20 Jun 2012

BA (Hons), University of Oxford

Award Date: 20 Jun 2010


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