MESA Book Awards

Michael Christopher Low

Iowa State University

2021 Albert Hourani Book Award Winner

Michael Christopher Low

Michael Christopher Low

Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj
Columbia University Press

Michael Christopher Low’s study of late nineteenth-century Mecca is a fascinating account of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca amid the transformations wrought by Ottoman modernity and European colonial ambitions. Drawing on a wide range of archives in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, Low delves into bureaucratic practices, surveillance, disease control, and global transportation in rich and engaging detail. The book manages to be both a local history of Mecca and a global history that foregrounds non-Western institutions and actors. This is a page-turner that weaves together several fields of modern history, particularly practices of state formation and the interaction between Western and non-Western forms of empire.

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