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Presented By: Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies

CMENAS Colloquium Series. Ecologies of Empire: Ottoman Arabia, the Indian Ocean Hajj, and the Global Crisis of Cholera

Michael Christopher Low, Assistant Professor of History, Iowa State University

2021 CMENAS Colloquium Series 2021 CMENAS Colloquium Series
2021 CMENAS Colloquium Series
The 2020 CMENAS Colloquium Series theme is "Public Health and Pandemics across the MENA: A Multidisciplinary Exhibition."

Please register to attend at

About the Presentation:
Between 1831 and 1914, cholera spread from India to Mecca and the Hijaz on at least forty separate occasions. This talk traces the development of Ottoman and international quarantine and public health controls in the Hijaz, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf between 1865 and World War I. Low argues that pandemic cholera and the inter-imperial public health and travel regulations that its reign of terror spawned were foundational to the creation of the modern system of mass pilgrimage that we know today. In light of our current global crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic and its role in Saudi Arabia’s difficult decision to dramatically restrict hajj and umrah travel over the past two years, the relevance of Mecca’s pandemic past raises urgent new questions for understanding the present and future of pilgrimage management and even wider questions of mass mobility, travel restrictions, and border management in both the Global North and South.

About the Speaker:
Michael Christopher Low is Assistant Professor of History. Low received his PhD from Columbia University in 2015. He is the author of Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj (Columbia University Press, 2020). Imperial Mecca will soon be available in translation in Arabic and Turkish. Low is also the co-editor of The Subjects of Ottoman International Law (Indian University Press, 2020). In 2020-2021, Low was a Senior Humanities Research Fellow for the Study of the Arab World at NYU Abu Dhabi.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact Kristin Waterbury at

Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.

Livestream Information

October 6, 2021 (Wednesday) 2:00pm

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