Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Eve M. Troutt Powell


This dissertation interrogates our conceptualizations of space, our understanding of the topographical borders of regions, and our historiographical depiction of the margins between imperial administration and local autonomy the Ottoman Maghreb. It does so by juxtaposing the history of corsairs, Bedouins, desert caravans and empires in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century North Africa. Further, it examines the horizontal connections among the North African provinces and their corresponding systems of governance. The central premise of this dissertation is that one cannot fully understand the policy and affairs of turn of the nineteenth century Egypt, or the Porte, without a firm grasp on the historical context of neighboring Ottoman Tripoli and Tunis.

Approaching this project with a regional lens allows this research to challenge the historiographical perception that North Africa was a periphery of the Ottoman world, and that its coastlines were the southern periphery of the Mediterranean region. Rather, it argues that for as incomplete as Mediterranean history is without a thorough examination of North Africa, North African history in turn cannot be understood without examining the Sahara and the region’s connections with the Sahel. By reframing the concept of frontier space in our understanding of empire, this work takes zones of contact that have been traditionally seen as marginal and situates them at the center of the narrative. Changing this perspective allows us to better contextualize how Ottoman power structures ran both vertically between the imperial center, the periphery and beyond, but also horizontally— across the seas and the sands of North Africa, and across the divides of the provinces: Egypt, Tripoli, and Tunis. In doing so, this dissertation re-conceptualizes our understanding of what is ‘marginal’ and blurs the lines between the sea and the sand of African Mediterranean.