Chris Low

Co-Director of Middle Eastern Studies Program and Assistant Professor of History


Office:657 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA


Michael Christopher Low is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Co-Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Minor hosted by the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

His primary research interests include the late Ottoman Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean World, and Environmental History. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015. For the 2020-2021 academic year, he is on leave as a Senior Humanities Research Fellow for the Study of the Arab World at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Low is the author of Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj (Columbia University Press, 2020). Drawing on Ottoman and British archival sources as well as published materials in Arabic and modern Turkish, Imperial Mecca analyzes how the Hijaz and the steamship-era pilgrimage to Mecca simultaneously became objects of Ottoman modernization, global public health, international law, and inter-imperial competition during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Low is also co-editor (with Lâle Can, Kent Schull, and Robert Zens) of The Subjects of Ottoman International Law (Indiana University Press, 2020).

Low’s articles have appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History; Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East; Environment and History; the International Journal of Middle East Studies; and the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Journal of Tourism History.

His research and language training have been supported by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies; Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the David L. Boren National Security Education Program; the Institute of Turkish Studies; Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities; Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

In 2020, Professor Low was also recognized by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a Dean’s Emerging Faculty Leader.

Courses Taught at Iowa State:

  • HIST 255: Introduction to World History, 1500-Present
  • HIST 331: Islamic World to 1800
  • HIST 362: Global Environmental History
  • HIST 435: The Modern Middle East
  • HIST 554C: Reading Seminar in Environmental History (Global)