Professor, Islamic World/Middle East HistoryHeadshot

Director of Global Studies (2014-2016)                          

Whitman College

Phone: (509) 522-4428

Email: semerdve@whitman.edu

Office:  Maxey Hall 237


Ph.D. Georgetown University

M.A. The University of Michigan

B.A. Albion College

Fellowships: Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellowship (2016-2017), American Research Institute in Turkey Fellowship (2016), Fulbright CIES-Syria (2007-2008), Fulbright IIE -Syria (1999).

Awards:G. Thomas Edwards Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship (2016), Syrian Studies Association Best Article Prize (2014), Ara and Edma Dumanian Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies in the Department of Near Eastern languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago (Spring, 2013), Syrian Studies Association Best Dissertation Prize (2004).

Professional Associations:  Board member of the Syrian Studies Association (2013-2015) and Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (2012-2015), Chair of M. Fuat Köprülü Book Prize Committee OTSA (2014)

Areas of Research Interest:  Syria, Ottoman Empire, Turkey, urban history, social history, Armenian history, Islamic law, gender, sexuality, and religious minorities.

Areas of Teaching Interest:  Ottoman Empire, modern Middle East history and politics, nationalism, women in Islam, early Islamic history, Muslim travel literature, Armenian history, and imperialism.



“Off the Straight Path”:  Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo (Syracuse University Press, 2008).

Scenes & Types.  Proceedings from the Global Studies Human Zoos Symposium and Scenes & Types Sheehan Gallery Exhibition (Global Studies Initiative, Whitman College, 2016).


“Armenians in the Production of Urban Space in Early Modern Judayda, Aleppo” in Requiem for Ottoman Aleppo/Alep à l’époque ottomane, un requiem, ed. Stefan Winter and Mafalde Ade (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2019).

“Bone Memory: The Necrogeography of the Armenian Genocide in Der Zor, Syria,” Human Remains and Violence Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2018, 56-75                                                                          scenes-and-types-cover-1

“Armenian Women, Legal Bargaining, and Gendered Politics of Conversion in Eighteenth Century Aleppo” Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies (March 2016)

“Sexing the Hammam:  Discourses on Gender and Sexuality in the Ottoman Bathhouse” in Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Cultures ed. Gul Ozyegin (Ashgate, 2015)

“#SaveKessab, #Save Aleppo, and Kim Kardashian: Syria’s Rashomon Effect” Jadaliyya (April 24, 2014)

“Naked Anxiety:  Bathhouses, Nudity, and Muslim/non-Muslim Relations in Eighteenth-Century Aleppo” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 45:4 (November   2013) 651-676.

“‘Because He is So Tender and Pretty’: Sexual Deviance and Heresy in Eighteenth- Century Aleppo” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation, and Culture, 18:2 (March 2012) 175-199.

“Rewriting the History of Sexuality in the Islamic World” Hawwa 4: 1-2 (2006), “Homosexuality in Islam,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Homosexuality (Greenwood Press, 2006).

“Gender Violence and Intent in Ottoman Law: A View of the Imperial Kanunnames and Fetvas of the Sixteenth Century,” in Beyond the Exotic:  Women’s Histories in Islamic Societies, ed. Amira Sonbol (Syracuse, New York, Syracuse University Press, 2005 reprinted American University of Cairo Press, 2006).

“Women, Gender and Domestic Violence” and “Rape in Islam,” Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures (E.J. Brill, Leiden, 2004).

“Sinful Professions: Illegal Occupations of Women in Ottoman Aleppo, Syria,” Hawwa 1:1, 2003.

Current research projects:

Remnants: Gender, Islamized Armenians, and Collective Memory of the Armenian Genocide (current book project)

Armenian Society in Early Modern Aleppo, 1600-1800 (future book project)

Select publications can be accessed on my academia.edu site.