Jens Hanssen

Jens Hanssen

Professor (On leave through to June 30, 2026)
Historical Studies - History
  • Room:
    MN 4286
  • Office Hours:
    Please refer to the syllabus and/or contact via email.
  • Mailing Address:

    Dept. of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations, 4 Bancroft Avenue
    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 (2005), and co-edited Empire in the City; Arab Provincial Capitals in the Late Ottoman Empire (2002), both published by the German Orient Institute in Beirut. He has written and presented his academic work in English, Arabic, French, and German on Ottoman archaeology, municipal and intellectual history of the Middle East, and 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) and 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 50th 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; and post-national histories of modernity in the Middle East. He is currently conducting research on German-Jewish and Arab intellectual histories.


  • Arab Civilization