The Ottoman Scramble for Africa

with Mostafa Minawi

hosted by Chris Gratien

The Ottoman Empire occupies an unusual place among the competing imperial powers of the nineteenth century. On one hand, a weak military position often forced the Ottomans to accept unfavorable economic and political arrangements while playing other empires off each other to maintain autonomy. On the other, we find expansion of state institutions throughout the Ottoman domains and an increased Ottoman presence in many parts of Asia and the Indian Ocean. Many even point to a form of Ottoman colonialism practiced in the frontiers of the empire. In this episode, Mostafa Minawi offers a glimpse at Ottoman practices in the realm of strategic imperial diplomacy within the context of the Scramble for Africa and European competition over influence in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Mostafa Minawi is an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University. (faculty page)
Chris Gratien is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see

Episode No. 143
Release date: 1 February 2014
Location: Feriköy, Istanbul
Editing and production by Chris Gratien

Citation: "The Ottoman Scramble for Africa," Mostafa Minawi and Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 143 (1 February 2014)


David Levering Lewis, The Race to Fashoda: European Colonialism and African Resistance in the Scramble for Africa (New York: Weidenfeld and
Nicolson, 1987).

Idris Bostan, “The Ottoman Empire and the Congo: the crisis of 1893-95,” in Studies on Ottoman
Diplomatic History
, part v, ed. Selim Deringil and Sinan Kuneralp (Istanbul: ISIS, 1990).

Lisa Anderson, The State and Social Reformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830–1980 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).

Sidqi al-Dajani, Al-Haraka al-Sanusiyya, Nashʾatuha wa Numuwaha fi al-Qarn at-Tasiʿ ʿAshar (Cairo: 1967).

Abdulmola S. el-Horeir, “Social and Economic Transformations in the Libyan Hinterland
During the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century: The Role of Sayyid Ahmad al-Sharif al-Sanusi” (Ph.D. diss, UCLA, 1981).

Claudia Anna Gazzini, “Jihad in Exile: Ahmad al-Sharif al-Sanusi, 1918–1933” (MA
thesis, Princeton University, 2004).

Jonathan Miran, Red Sea Citizens: Cosmopolitan Society and Cultural Change in Massawa (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009).

The Royal Geographical Society, “Delimitation of British and French Spheres in Central Africa,” The
Geographical Journal 13, no. 5 (May, 1899): 524–25.


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