Jens Hanssen

Jens Hanssen

Professor & Director, Orient Institute of the Max Weber Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon (Through to June 30, 2026)
Historical Studies - History
  • Room:
    MN 4286
  • Office Hours:
    Please refer to syllabus and/or contact via email.
  • Mailing Address:

    Dept. of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations, 4 Bancroft Ave.
    Toronto ON M5S 1C1

Jens Hanssen is a Professor of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean History. He has held junior research fellowships at the American University of Beirut and the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in Beirut, and served on the academic advisory committee at the Lebanese Ministry of Culture and Higher Education to host Beirut as the cultural capital of the Arab world. He was Socrates Fellow at La Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, University of Aix-en-Provence/Marseille, and held a postdoctoral fellowship from the Thyssen Foundation to study the Arab renaissance.


D.Phil (History, Oxford)


His Dissertation has been published by Clarendon Press as “Fin de Siècle Beirut: The Making of an Ottoman Provincial Capital”, Oxford, 2005 ( He also co-authored History, Space and Social Conflict in Beirut; The Quarter of Zokak el-Blat in 2005, and co-edited Empire in the City; Arab Provincial Capitals in the Late Ottoman Empire in 2002, both published by the German Orient Institute in Beirut. He has written and presented his academic work in English, Arabic, Franch and German on Ottoman archaeology, municipal and intellectual history of the Middle East, memory and reconstruction in postwar Lebanon, and filmed a short documentary on academic life in Iraq after the U.S. invasion during his visit to Baghdad in June 2003. He has published in The New Cambridge History of Islam (2010), in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2011) and has an article on “Kafka and Arabs” forthcoming in Critical Inquiry. He is preparing a book on Levantine family history and is organizing a series of international conferences to mark the 50. anniversary of the publication of Albert Hourani’s seminal “Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age.”

Ongoing Research

He is interested in the connection between intellectual trends and urban culture in the modern Middle East, in particular 19th. and 20th century Baghdad; the rationalities of late Ottoman rule in the Arab provinces; imperialism, liberalism and cosmopolitanism in the modern Mediterranean; post-national histories of modernity in the Middle East. He is currently conducting research on German-Jewish and Arab intellectual histories.


Arab Civilization