clear

Creating new perspectives since 2009

 

Usman Butt

A broadcast and digital journalist and researcher.

 

Items by Usman Butt

  • The New Experts: Populist Elites and Technocratic Promises in Modi’s India

    In 2014, Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won India’s 16th general election and, among huge swathes of the country’s population as well as the international community, there was great concern about what a Modi India would look like. Aside from concerns over his role during the Gujarat...

  • Italy and the Islamic World: From Caesar to Mussolini

    Italy’s relationship with the Middle East and North Africa and Islam spans millennia.  Throughout the ages, the Mediterranean country has played a role in these nations and these nations have played a role in Italy. Going all the way back to the Roman Empire and stretching to Benito Mussolini’s...

  • The Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran, 1639 - 1682

    Between 1514 and 1639, the Ottomans and Safavid Empires engaged in a series of wars, clashes, skirmishes and destabilisation attempts. After the Treaty of Zuhab on 17 May 1639, the hostilities between the two powers largely came to an end and, for many historians, the story ends there as...

  • The Memoirs of Shah Tahmasp I: Safavid Ruler of Iran

    “It occurred to my defected mind to write a memoir of my life and deeds … so that whenever our supporters read it they will remember us with a prayer … they should realize it is free of the appearance of dissimulation, lies and hypocrisy.” It is almost a...

  • The Achilles Trap: Saddam Hussein, The United States And The Middle East, 1979-2003

    The 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq is one of the most analysed events in the history of armed conflict. Although the US achieved a military victory against the regime of Saddam Hussein, few today regard the war to be a success. Indeed, it has come to represent...

  • On Muslim Democracy: Essays and Dialogue

    According to Tunisian politician Rached Ghannouchi, “The Islamic system is closer to a parliamentary one and is not an executive authority.” The leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda movement explains to Andrew March, an American political philosopher and translator of Ghannouchi’s works. “So, the government is a tool for implementing that...

  • Empire of Refugees: North Caucasian Muslims And The Late Ottoman State

    The period between 1850 to the start of the First World War saw an unprecedented refugee crisis strike the Ottoman Empire. An estimated North Caucasian Muslims, which included Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, Tartars and others sought refuge in Ottoman lands from the expanding Russian Empire. The story of how Istanbul...

  • Bedeviled: Jinn Doppelgangers in Islam & Akbarian Sufism

    Doppelgangers are the stuff of fantasy, folklore and tradition and are an integral part of popular culture; one only has to think of Jake Gyllenhaal’s 2014 film, Enemy, where a depressed history teacher discovers he has an exact look-alike who works as an extra in films, to see how...

  • The City in Arabic Literature

    Historically, the Arab world has always been deeply urbanised and cities have always been at the forefront of politics, society and economics. Given its importance, writers, thinkers, intellectuals, rulers, lawmakers and religious figures have always had a lot to say about cities and life in urban environments. Understanding the...

  • Tahrir's Youth: Leaders of a Leaderless Revolution

    The 25th of January has become something of a sombre date for many of us, memories of the euphoria, the youthful energy and excitement at a once in a generation revolutionary change have been replaced with a regret at what could have been. It was a day that began...

  • Alexandria: The City that Changed the World

    “Alexandria,” said Napoleon Bonaparte of the ancient Egyptian city, “more so than Rome, Constantinople, Paris, London, Amsterdam; would have been, and was meant to be, the head of the universe.” A glimpse of the splendour, grandeur and momentous history of the Mediterranean city is captured in Islam Issa’s new...

  • The New Roman Empire: A History of Byzantium

    For most people, the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD after the Barbarian statesman Odoacer declared himself ruler of Italy. The fact that the Eastern Roman Empire continued with its centre in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) has often been treated as a mere footnote of history and not particularly important;...

  • Sufis in Medieval Baghdad

    There is a tendency to think about public spheres as modern socio-political innovations. German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who coined the idea of public sphere in the 1960s, said it was a place that lies between state and civil society, where common people critically and rationally debate matters of common...

  • France: The Long Goodbye

    The end of French rule over Algeria came to an end on 5 July 1962 and is often seen as the symbolic end of the French Empire. However, since the 1962 withdrawal, France has militarily intervened in Africa over 50 times and, since 2011, has attempted to shape events...

  • We are your soldiers: How Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser remade the Arab world

    ‘Seven decades since his coup, and more than half a century since his death, the Arab peoples have scarcely begun to shake off the legacy of “Father” Gamal Abdel Nasser,’ as the sweeping regional history of Egypt’s former president concludes. Nasser was certainly an iconic figure whose persona shaped...

  • I Cannot Write My Life: Islam, Arabic, and Slavery in Omar Ibn Said's America

    The transatlantic slave trade was the largest and one of the most horrifying crimes in human history, between 1525 and 1866, 12 million Africans were taken and transported from Africa to the Americas. The conditions were appalling for the enslaved in the ‘new world’, but for many, slavery was...

  • Imagining Palestine: Cultures of Exile and National Identity

    Tahrir Hamdi’s new book Imagining Palestine: Cultures of Exile and National Identity explores the variety and complex ways that Palestinian writers, thinkers, activists and intellectuals have connected their memories to both the present and the future. If anyone is exiled, they are robbed of the chance to form new...

  • Sea of Troubles: The European Conquest of the Islamic Mediterranean and the origins of the First World War

    Can the origins of the First World War be traced back to European imperial rivalries and growing influence in the Mediterranean from the 18th century onwards? This is the question that Ian Rutledge seeks to answer in Sea of Troubles: The European Conquest of the Islamic Mediterranean and the...

  • The Ottoman Scientific Heritage

    The Ottoman Scientific Heritage is a three-volume tour de force that will prove to be a key reference point for historians of science and Ottomanists alike. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a former Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, has spent a lifetime dispelling a common trope that, after the sacking...

  • Memory Makers

    Historical memory is at the forefront of Russia’s wars in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere. However, this historical memory is not about things in the past that actually happened, or real history, it is a constructed past to fit the Kremlin’s objectives. Memory serves in place of ideology to give...

  • George Orwell and Russia

    The 20th century had no more prolific writer on the dangers of authoritarianism than Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell. Orwell’s writings continue to impact us today and, in Russia, his works continue to have a special resonance as Masha Karp explores in her...

  • Disenchanting the Caliphate: The Secular Discipline of Power in Abbasid Political Thought 

    Did secularism in the Arab world only really begin in the 20th century after European colonisation? Historians in both the Arab World and the West have long argued that secularism is a uniquely European phenomenon that was exported to the rest of the world through empires. There is no...

  • Authoritarian Century

    Could the end of liberalism be the end of diverse multi-ethnic states, from Indonesia to the United States? Azeem Ibrahim seems to think so and aims to make the case that a post-liberal world is not only authoritarian, but also dangerous to the internal harmony of many countries throughout...

  • Discover Cappadocia, Turkiye

    Located at the heart of the Tarus Mountains Cappadocia offers visitors stunning views and ancient history...