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James Baldwin


  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Personal profile

James E. Baldwin is Lecturer in Empires of the Early Modern Muslim World, in the Department of History.


I received my PhD from New York University in 2010. Before arriving at Royal Holloway I taught at the University of Warwick for three years, held a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship at Queen Mary, University of London, and held visiting fellowships at Koç University, Istanbul and Harvard Law School.

I work on the legal, social and political history of the Ottoman Empire, with a particular focus on the province of Egypt. My first book, Islamic Law and Empire in Ottoman Cairo, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2017. Through an examination of several formal and informal dispute resolution forums and practices, including the shari‘a courts, the Ottoman governor’s Diwan, the petitioning system, and informal arbitration undertaken by military officials and community elders, the book investigates the relationship between Islamic law and political power, and examines how law connected Cairo to the imperial capital Istanbul. I have also published articles in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies, the Journal of the Economic & Social History of the Orient and Osmanlı Araştırmaları.

I am currently working on a second project examining the roles of litigation and political violence in the struggles among elite households over land, revenues and administrative office in eighteenth-century Egypt.  I am also editor of the Ottoman section at SHARIAsource, a digital resource for Islamic legal studies based at Harvard Law School.

I teach the history of Islamic law, the Ottoman Empire, and the modern Middle East. I teach or contribute to the following courses at Royal Holloway:


  • The Ottoman Empire, 1453-1789
  • The Making of the Modern Middle East, 1789-1930
  • Justice, Power and Religion in the Muslim World: The History of Shari'a Law
  • From Mao to Mandela: Twentieth-Century Political Leaders in the Non-Western World
  • The Age of Discovery: Expansion, Invention and Globalization in the Early Modern World
  • Independent Essay
  • Historiography


  • Politics and Religion in the Middle East since 1914

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions