Principal Investigator

Dr John-Paul Ghobrial

john paul ghobrial


Dr Ghobrial is Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Balliol College.  His research focuses on the Middle East in the early modern period, and he has a special interest in exchanges between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. In part, this has developed out of a long-standing interest in the history of communication as a way of thinking about wider questions related to connectedness in the early modern world. His first book, The Whispers of Cities (Oxford, 2013), explored the circulation of information between Istanbul, London, and Paris in the late seventeenth century. This led to a renewed interest in the history of Eastern Christianity, which is the focus of his current research. His published work on this subject includes an article in Past and Present, ‘The Secret Life of Elias of Babylon and the Uses of Global Microhistory’, which also lays the foundation for his second book, currently in progress.

In 2015, Dr Ghobrial was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to direct a five-year project on the history of Eastern Christianity in the early modern period. In addition, he is the convenor for the Faculty’s Programme in Eastern Mediterranean Studies, which coordinates a set of research seminars, lectures and other events related to the study of Mediterranean history from the late medieval period up until the nineteenth century.

Key publications

  1. The Whispers of Cities: Information Flows in Istanbul, London and Paris in the Age of William Trumbull (Oxford, 2013). Shortlisted for the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Prize.
Edited collections
  1. The Space Between: Microhistory, Global History, and the Question of Scale (2019).
  1. Christians and Jews in Ottoman Society (2018).
Selected Articles
  1. ‘Stories Never Told: The First Arabic History of the New World’, in special issue of the Journal of Ottoman Studies on ‘Other Places: Ottomans travelling, seeing, writing, drawing the world’, vol. 40 (December 2012), pp. 259-281.
  2. ‘The Secret Life of Elias of Babylon and the Uses of Global Microhistory’, Past and Present 222.1 (February 2014), pp. 51-93.
  3. ‘The Ottoman World of ‘Abdullah Zakher: The Bindings of the Melkite Monastery at Shuwayr in the Arcadian Library’, in Giles Mandelbrote and Willem de Bruijn, eds., The Arcadian Library: Bindings and Provenance (Oxford University Press and the Arcadian Library, 2014), pp. 193-231.
  4. ‘The Archive of Orientalism and its Keepers: Re-imagining the Histories of Arabic Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe’, in Liesbeth Corens, Kate Peters and Alexandra Walsham, eds., The Social History of the Archive: Record Keeping in Early Modern EuropePast and Present Supplement 11 (Oxford, 2016), pp. 90-111.
  5. ‘The Life and Hard Times of Solomon Negri: An Arabic Teacher in Early Modern Europe’, in Charles Burnett, Alastair Hamilton, and Jan Loop, eds., The Teaching and Learning of Arabic in Early Modern Europe (Brill, 2017), pp. 310-331.
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