Ph.D., New York University, 2005
Isa Blumi received his Ph.D. from NYU in 2005, working under the joint program in the History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies departments created in 1996. Writing a comparative history of the complex interactions between imperial authorities and the inhabitants of Ottoman Albania and Yemen, his dissertation, supervised primarily by Zachary Lockman, Fred Cooper and Ruth Ben-Ghiat, evolved into a project that took Isa nine years to complete. His research took him to national and regional archives in Britain, the US, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Greece, Albania, Kosova, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen. Such obsessive behavior can be partially attributed to the fact that Isa was initially trained in comparative history and political theory at the New School for Social Research, by among others, Talal Asad, Ferenc Feher, Eric Hobsbawm, Charles Tilly and Aristide Zolberg. Under their tutelage, Isa has consistently sought to explain transformations in world history through observations of trans-regional exchanges. Identifying an important function in combining social history, post-colonial theory, with an analysis of state institutions as they evolved over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Isa argues for a more integrated and inter-disciplinary approach to studying such (ex)changes. His first attempt to lay out some of these methodological issues was in his 2003 book entitled: Rethinking the Late Ottoman Empire and in numerous articles on Ottoman Balkan and Yemeni history as well as contemporary Balkan issues.
Isa has continued to explore these issues in three recently completed books, all of which initiate a more critical discussion about whether or not historians should study the modern Balkans and the Middle East through the prism of ethno-national and sectarian categories. Arguing that the misuse of analytical categories has long-term consequences to how current events are understood in the media and by policy makers, Isa remains active in the analysis of the modern Balkans, in particular Kosova and Albania, and has written on contemporary Yemen and Persian/Arab Gulf politics as well.
Isa is now embarking on projects that explore the interactive dynamics of finance capitalism, new forms of land management and exploitative labor regimes in the nineteenth century South China Sea, Eastern Africa and Arabia. Isa mentors students who are currently working on a wide range of projects.
Modern Balkan History (Kosova, Albania and identity politics); Islam in Europe and Southeast Asia; Modern Imperialism (The Ottoman, Italian, French and Austro-Hungarian Empires); The Middle East from 1800 (Yemen, The Persian/Arab Gulf and Red Sea); Migration, Comparative State Systems and the dynamics of state/society interactions.