clear

Creating new perspectives since 2009

 

Usman Butt

A broadcast and digital journalist and researcher.

 

Items by Usman Butt

  • 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...

  • Taming the Messiah: The Formation of an Ottoman Political Public Sphere, 1600-1700

    “Arabic is eloquence, Persian is wittiness, Turkish is abomination, and the rest is filth,” Evliya Celebi, the 17th century Ottoman travel writer, is reported to have remarked. The high regard for Persian was not merely linguistic appreciation, but also speaks to a school of thought, culture, belief system and...

  • In the Shadow of the Prophet: Essays in Islamic History

    Few can claim to have produced a wealth of scholarship and achieved mastery over Middle Eastern history, but Roy Mottahedeh’s insatiable curiosity for the past has left us with a treasure trove of works. Reading essays that he has written over the past fifty years and collected together in...

  • Unknowing and the Everyday: Sufism and Knowledge in Iran

    A group of men and women have gathered with an instructor to partake in a religious ceremony which, aside from worship, represents something broader in their lives: how to take the experiences from the session and apply them to everyday life. “I was in another world during Fana [a...

  • The Neoconservatives who paved the road to invading Iraq

    For Neoconservatives, Iraq was about a vision for a new world based on aggressive and interventionist US foreign policy...

  • Assignment China: An Oral History of American Journalists in the People’s Republic

    In 2020, with the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak still unknown, Chris Buckley of the New York Times received a phone call from a woman at the Wuhan Foreign Affairs Office in the People’s Republic of China. It was a few days into the lockdown. “We know you...

  • Discover the Great Mosque of Xi’an, China

    Located in the central Chinese province of Shaanxi and in the same city as the terra-cotta army, the Great Mosque of Xi’an is believed to have been built in 742 during the Tang dynasty...