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Dr Claire Norton

Reader - History

Dr Claire Norton

About Research

Tel: 020 8240 4188


Dr Norton’s research and teaching interests are largely focused on the roles that historical narratives play in socio-cultural contexts. She is interested in how histories of liminal communities particularly those in conflict or post-conflict situations intersect with the construction of identities, interfaith interactions and the limits and ethical implications of historical representation. She looks at the processes and complexities of identity formation, conceptions of the religious other, and the political and social uses of narrations of the past. Much of her research is on early-modern Ottoman history, focusing on instances of cultural transfer and interaction among communities living in European and Mediterranean border areas. One of her most recent books explores Ottoman textual practices and literacy strategies and the role these have played in the construction of identities and imagination of political space through a detailed analysis of Ottoman and modern Turkish narrations of the sieges of Nagykanizsa castle: Plural Pasts: power, identity, and the Ottoman sieges of Nagykanizsa, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).

In 2013 Dr Norton organised a two-day symposium entitled The Lure of the Other: Religious Conversion in the Early Modern Mediterranean and Beyond. A volume of articles based on papers from the conference has now been published: Claire Norton (ed) Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other (London: Routledge, 2017) In April 2006, she organised an international conference on "The Renaissance and the Ottoman World" in conjunction with the Warburg Institute, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and St Mary's University. Papers from this conference were published as a book: Anna Contadini and Claire Norton (eds), The Renaissance and the Ottoman World. (London: Ashgate, 2013).

Dr Norton also teaches and writes about the production and consumption of both institutionalised and vernacular histories, particularly the socio-political and ethical functions that different forms of past-talk have. She has written a number of articles and books on this subject including Liberating Histories (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018) and Doing History (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011). In June 2016 she organised a conference with artists, activists and radical archivists entitled Pasts without History: politics and the practical past and is preparing contributions from the conference for a special edition of the theory journal Rethinking History.  She is currently writing about art as a form of past talk and how it has been used in anti-colonial strategies of resistance and as a means of discussing the ethical issues arising from migration.

Dr Norton is co-editor responsible for the Ottoman Empire in an AHRC-funded bibliographical history project Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900 (CMR1900) and has edited a number of volumes arising from the project. She is also leading a project working with teachers and educationalists to produce teaching materials from the CMR1900 volumes. 

She is also the co-academic editor for the journal Anatolian Studies and is on the editorial board of the journals Rethinking History and Studies in Religion.

Dr Norton has taught modules on the crusades, corsairing in the Mediterranean, interactions in the early modern Indian Ocean, global exploration, religious conflict in the Balkans, Palestine-Israel and the socio-cultural role of vernacular and institutionalised past-talk. She currently teaches the following modules:

  • Art and Power
  • Public Histories
  • Imagining the Ottoman Empire

Dr Norton has supervised PhD theses on British Mandate Palestine and is happy to supervise PhD theses on the theoretical and socio-ethical issues surrounding the production and consumption of history; Ottoman history, and Muslim-Christian interactions in the early modern period.


Research profile



  • Liberating Histories (with Mark Donnelly) Abingdon: Routledge, 2018.
  • Plural Pasts: power, identity, and the Ottoman sieges of Nagykanizsa Abingdon: Routledge, 2017.
  • Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other (ed.) Abingdon: Routledge, 2017.
  • Rönesans ve Osmanlı Dünyası (ed. with A. Contadini) Istanbul: Koç University Press, 2015.
  • The Renaissance and the Ottoman World (ed. with A. Contadini) London: Ashgate, 2013.
  • Doing History (with Mark Donnelly) Abingdon: Routledge, 2011.
  • Nationalism, Historiography and the (Re)Construction of the Past (ed.) Washington: New Academia Press, 2007.

Peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in edited books

  • “Counter/actual: art and strategies of anti-colonial resistance” Art History and Criticism 14 (2018): 28-39
  • “Thinking the Past Politically: Palestine, Pedagogy, Power,” with Mark Donnelly, in Kalle Pihlainen (ed.) History in the World,  (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017): 50-74.
  • “The Ottoman and Safavid Empires in the 17th Century,” (with Reza Pourjavady) in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, vol.10 “Ottoman and Safavid Empires (1600-1700) ed. David Thomas and John Chesworth, (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 1-19.
  • "In the Service of Technocratic Managerialism? History in UK Universities," (with Mark Donnelly) Educational Philosophy and Theory 49/6, (2017): 643-655
  • "Iconographs of power or tools of diplomacy? Ottoman fethnames," Journal of Early Modern History 20/4 (2016): 331-350.
  • “Thinking the Past Politically: Palestine, Pedagogy, Power,” with Mark Donnelly, Rethinking History, 20/2 (2016) 192-216.
  • “‘(In)tolerant Ottomans: polemic, perspective and the reading of primary sources,“ In Douglas Pratt, Jon Hoover, John Davies, John Chesworth (eds), The Character of Christian-Muslim Encounters: essays in honour of David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2015) 242-263.
  • "Liminal space in the Early Modern Ottoman-Habsburg borderlands: historiography, ontology, and politics," in Paul Stock (ed.), The Uses of Space in Early Modern History 1500-1850 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) 75-96.
  • "Sacred Sites, Severed heads and Prophetic Visions," in Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia,2/1 (2014) 81-96.
  • "Being Tiryaki Hasan Pasha: the politico-textual appropriations of an Ottoman hero," in Marios Hadjianastasis (ed.),Frontiers of the Ottoman Imagination: Essays in Honour of Rhoads Murphey, (Leiden: Brill, 2014) 86-110.
  • "The siege, the book and the film:Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)" co-authored with Mark Donnelly, in A. L. MacFie (ed.) The Fiction of History (London: Routledge, 2014) 85-105.
  • "The Lords of Lewdness: imagining the 'other' in Ottoman fethnames [victory missives]" in Robert Born and Andreas Puth, (eds), Osmanischer Orient und Ostmitteleuropa (Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 2014) 281-299.
  • "Blurring the Boundaries: intellectual and cultural interactions between the eastern and western; Christian and Muslim worlds," in Anna Contadini and Claire Norton (eds), The Renaissance and the Ottoman World. (London: Ashgate, 2013) 3-21.
  • "Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern 'Renegade'" Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29/2 (2009), 259-268.
  • "Erasing Oral Residue and Correcting Scribal Error: Re-interpreting the Presence of Mnemo-technical Practices in Ottoman Manuscripts in the Early Modern Period," in Rafal Wojcik (ed.), Culture of Memory in East Central and in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period (Poznan: Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, 2008), 27-42.
  • "Nationalism and the Re-Invention of Early-Modern Identities in the Ottoman-Habsburg Borderlands," Ethnologia Balkanica 11 (2008), 79-101.
  • "Conversion to Islam in the Ottoman Empire," Wiener zeitschrift zur geschichte der neuzeit 7/2 (2007), 25-39.
  • "Smack-Head Hasan: Why are all Turkic Superheroes Intemperate, Treacherous, or Stupid?" in Angela Ndalianis, Chris Mackie and Wendy Haslem, (eds), Super/heroes: From Hercules to Superman (Washington: New Academia Press, 2007), 263-274.
  • "Narrating the 'Yoke of Oppression': Twentieth-Century Hungarian Scholarship of the Ottoman-Hungarian Borderlands", in Claire Norton (ed.), Nationalism, Historiography and the (Re)Construction of the Past (Washington: New Academia Press, 2007), 185-198.
  • "Fiction or Non-fiction? Ottoman Accounts of the Siege of Nagykanizsa", in Kuisma Korhonen (ed.), Tropes for the Past: Hayden White and the History/Literature Debate (Amsterdam and New York: Rodophi, 2006), 119-130.
  • "'The Lutheran is the Turks' Luck': Imagining Religious Identity, Alliance and Conflict on the Habsburg-Ottoman Marches in an Account of the Sieges of Nagykanizsa 1600 and 1601", in Marlene Kurz, Martin Scheutz, Karl Vocelka and Thomas Winkelbauer (eds), Das Osmanische Reich und die Habsburgermonarchie in der Neuzeit. Akten des internationalen Kongresses zum 150-jährigen Bestehen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, Wien, 22.-25. September 2004 MIÖG Erg. Bd. 49, (Wien: Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, 2005), 67-81. 2
  • "The Remembrance of the Siege of Kanije in the Construction of Late Ottoman and Modern Turkish Nationalist Identities," Parergon21/1 (2004) 133-153.
  • "Marines versus Fedayeen: Interpretive Naming and Constructing the 'Other'", Bad Subjects(2003)“Counter/actual: art and strategies of anti-colonial resistance” Art History and Criticism 14 (2018): 28-39

Review and shorter articles

  • "East-West Dichotomy? Historiography as a 'Clash of Civilisations'" review article Holy Land Studies 10/1 (2011), 121-129
  • "Crusade/Jihad as Propaganda" review article Holy Land Studies 9/1 (2010), 107-115.
  • "Terror and Toleration, East and West, Despotic and Free: dichotomous narratives and representations of Islam" review article Holy Land Studies 7/2 (2008), 221-228.
  • "Chronicling the Crusades," review article Holy Land Studies, 6/2 (2007), 201-208.
  • And numerous book reviews for journals

Large Collaborative Publications

  • Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. Volume 7 Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America (1500-1600). Vol.8. Edited by David Thomas and John Chesworth with John Azumah, Stanisław Grodź, Andrew Newman, Douglas Pratt; Clinton Bennett, Luis F. Bernabe Pons, Lejla Demiri, Martha Frederiks, John-Paul Ghobrial, David Grafton, Alan Guenther, Abdulkadir Hashim, Şevket Küçükhüseyin, Emma Loghin, Gordon Nickel, Claire Norton, Peter Riddell, Umar Ryad, Davide Tacchini, Moussa Serge Hyacinthe Traore, Carsten Walbiner. (Leiden: Brill, 2017)
  • Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. Volume 10 Ottoman and Safavid Empires (1600-1700). Vol. 10. Edited by David Thomas and John Chesworth
    with Lejla Demiri, Emma Gaze Loghin, Claire Norton, Radu Păun, Reza Pourjavady, Umar Ryad, Carsten Walbiner (Leiden: Brill, 2017)

Media presentations

In Our Time Radio 4 (14th May 2009)  the second Ottoman siege of Vienna (1683).

International conferences and symposia organised

  • Pasts without History: politics and the practical past St Mary's University, 2016
  • Aesthetics, postmodernism and the 'Before Now' St Mary's University, 1st July 2014
  • The Lure of the 'Other': Religious Conversion and Reversion in the Early Modern Mediterranean and Beyond St Mary's University College, Twickenham, 4th-5th June 2013
  • The Renaissance and the Ottoman World in conjunction with the Warburg Institute (Prof. Charles Burnett), the School of Oriental and African Studies (Prof. Anna Contadini), and St. Mary's College 26-27th April 2006
  • Nationalism, Historiography and the (Re)construction of the Past University of Birmingham 10-11th September 2004

Conference, workshop and seminar papers 

Dr Norton has given more than 50 conference papers - here is a selection from the past couple of years.

  • “Migration Tales: unhistorying the forgotten” IHR Theory of History Seminar 28/02/19 
  • “Art, Archaeology and Architecture: performing and contesting neo-colonial spatialities,” IHR Theory of History Seminar 11/01/18 
  • “Constructing the “facts on the ground”: performances of (neo)colonial archaeological and architectural spatialities,” Counter[f]actual Strategies in History writing, Literature and Arts, Jagiellonian University, Krakow 16-17th November 2017
  • “Narrative Terrorists: Writing the right kind of Islam – the oppression of narratives of inclusion” Recognition, Inclusion and Other Practices of Oppression Tallinn University, Estonia 12-13 October 2017.
  • “Ottoman imaginations of Christian Reformation politico-religious schisms,” Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Reformation Era, Nuremberg 19-21 July 2017.
  • “Research-led Teaching? What’s in it for me?” Learning, Teaching and Assessment Conference St Mary’s University 27th June 2017
  • “Constructing Conversion: stories of conflict and captivity,” Conversion to/from Islam in the Balkans and beyond: Historical Comparative Perspectives, University of Sarajevo, 11-14 May 2017.
  • “Disinterested Arrogance, Extravagant Performance and Bombastic Rhetoric: Why Do We Still Think that the Ottomans Didn’t Do Diplomacy?” at the Figuring Communities: Early Modern Literature, Form and International Law Symposium at University of Bristol 11th July 2016.
  • “Religious tolerance as a pragmatic strategy” series of two lectures at Cambridge Muslim College, Feb. 2016.
  • “They died on this day: 16 Azar, Ashura, 17.09.82 (Sabra-Shatila),” Ethos of History: Time, Memory and Representation, Sigtunastiftelsen University, Sweden, 10-12 Sept. 2015.
  • “Renaissance Ottomans” Lunchtime Lecture programme, National Gallery, London, 27th July 2015.

Media enquiries

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