Heath W. Lowry

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Heath Ward Lowry (born December 23, 1942) was the Atatürk Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton University. He is an author of books about the history of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey.


Lowry spent two years (1964–1966) working as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote mountain village Bereketli, Balıkesir Province in western Turkey before graduating from Portland State University (1966).[1] In the late '60s, he was a graduate student at UCLA working with scholars Speros Vryonis, Jr., Andreas Tietze, Gustav von Grunebaum, and Stanford J. Shaw, and received his PhD in 1977. He taught full-time at Boğaziçi University during the 1970s and served as the Istanbul Director of the American Research Institute in Turkey.[2] Between 1979 and 1982 he co-directed a team of international scholars working on late Byzantine and early Ottoman historical demography, as a member of Harvard University's Dumbarton Oaks Center.[3] In 1980, he co-founded The Journal of Ottoman Studies, together with Nejat Göyünç and Halil İnalcık.[4]

In 1983, with a group of scholars, businessmen, and retired diplomats and a grant from the Turkish government, he helped establish, and became the director of, the Institute of Turkish Studies [5] at Georgetown University,[6] which provides grants to scholars working in the area of Turkish studies. During this time, he began to study contemporary Turkish politics, and taught at the U.S. State Department's National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where his students were U.S. diplomats scheduled for assignment in Turkey.[3]

From 1993 to 2013, Lowry was the Atatürk Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton University, and served as the Director of the Program of Near Eastern Studies from July 1994 to June 1997. He offered seminars on early Ottoman history and undergraduate lecture courses on Ottoman history and contemporary Turkey.[3]

Views and critics

David B. MacDonald, of the Political Science department at the University of Guelph in Ontario, has labeled Lowry as one of the key deniers of the Armenian Genocide.[7] In 1985, Lowry was involved in organizing 69 academics to sign a letter expressing their opposition to official US recognition of the Genocide. The letter was then printed in the New York Times and Washington Post.[6]

In 1990, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton received a letter from the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Nuzhet Kandemir,[8] questioning his inclusion of references to the Armenian Genocide in one of his books. The ambassador inadvertently included a draft of a letter written by professor Lowry, advising the ambassador on how to prevent mention of the Armenian Genocide in scholarly works. The incident has been brought up as example of the issue of ethics in scholarship.[9][10] Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen and Lifton also state they caught Lowry "ghosting" for the Turkish ambassador in Washington regarding the denial of the Armenian Genocide.[11]

Michael M. Gunter defended Lowry, asking "how was Lowry acting in any way different from how Armenian scholars and their supporters have their long-running campaign against Turkey? When looked upon in such light, the Armenian reactions to the Lowry memorandums appear petty and hypocritical."[12]

Also, in 1990, Lowry concluded that Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was a record of "crude half-truths and outright falsehoods".[13] According to Yair Auron, Lowry is recognized as a principal source discrediting Morgenthau, giving "impetus to the Turkish endeavor to deny the Armenian Genocide."[14] On the other hand, Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at the Collège de France considers as "rather instructive" Lowry's book about Morgenthau[15] and, after to have "checked some of the alleged differences" between Ambassador's Morgenthau's Story and Morgenthau's archives, Guenter Lewy shares Heath Lowry's main conclusions about Morgenthau's Memoirs.[16]

Alan Fisher, professor of History at Michigan State University and secretary-treasurer and member of the Institute of Turkish Studies board of directors, countered allegations that Lowry "had worked for the Turkish Government" in his role as executive director of the Institute, stating that Lowry had been "appointed by the board and worked for the institute" and that he in no "sense of the word 'worked' for the Turkish Government".[17]

In a 44-page long article published in the Journal of Ottoman Studies in 1986 (initially presented as a paper at a conference at MESA), Lowry wrote a scathing review against historian Richard G. Hovannisian for his depiction of a junior American intelligence officer in his second volume on the history of the First Republic of Armenia.[18] Though it only occupied the space of a single footnote in a 603-page book, Lowry thought the alleged mischaracterizations by Hovannisian to be so egregious as to have compromised his scholarly integrity. Lowry took issue with the favorable reviews of the book by other historians such as Firuz Kazemzadeh and Roderic Davison and charged Hovannisian with distorting facts and displaying partiality in his work. In a point-by-point rebuttal published in the same year, Hovannisian expressed surprise at Lowry's outrage and decision to single out the depiction of one individual and use it as the sole basis to discredit his research. He went on to criticize Lowry for exaggerating the scope of minor errors, misinterpreting the sources and failing to grasp nuances found in the primary source material, which in many cases agreed with what he had originally written.[19]


  • "Early Ottoman Period," in Metin Heper and Sabri Sayari (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Modern Turkey, London-New York: Routledge, 2012.
  • In the footsteps of Evliyâ Çelebi, İstanbul: Bahçeşehir University Press, 2012.
  • Clarence K. Streit’s The Unknown Turks: Mustafa Kemal Paşa, Nationalist Ankara & Daily Life in Anatolia (January – March 1921). İstanbul: Bahçeşehir University Press, 2011.
  • Remembering one's Roots. Mehmed Ali Paşa of Egypt's links to the Macedonian town of Kavala : architectural monuments, inscriptions & document, Istanbul-Kavala: Bahçeşehir University Press/Mohamed Ali Institute, 2011.
  • The Evrenos Dynasty of Yenice-i Vardar: Notes & Documents. Istanbul: Bahçesehir University Publications, 2010.
  • “The ‘Soup Muslims’ of the Ottoman Balkans: Was There a ‘Western’ & ‘Eastern’ Ottoman Empire?”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları/Journal of Ottoman Studies, XXXVI (2010), pp. 95–131.
  • In the Footsteps of the Ottomans: A Search for Sacred Spaces & Architectural Monuments in Northern Greece. Istanbul: Bahçesehir University Publications, 2009.
  • An Ongoing Affair: Turkey & I, 2008. Istanbul & Eden (South Dakota): Çitlembik & Nettleberry, 2008.
  • Defterology Revisited: Studies on 15th & 16th Century Ottoman Society, Istanbul: The Isis Press, 2008.
  • The Shaping of the Ottoman Balkans, 1350–1550: Conquest, Settlement & Infrastructural Development of Northern Greece, Istanbul: Baçesehir University Publications, 2008.
  • The Nature of the Early Ottoman State (SUNY Series in the Social and Economic History of the Middle East). Albany: SUNY Press, 2003. ISBN 0-7914-5635-8
  • Ottoman Bursa in Travel Accounts. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Publications), 2003. ISBN 1-878318-16-0
  • Fifteenth Century Ottoman Realities: Christian Peasant Life on the Aegean Island of Limnos, Istanbul: Eren Press, 2002. ISBN 975-7622-89-3
  • Humanist and scholar. Essays in honor of Andreas Tietze, [with: Donalq Quataert et al.] Istanbul-Washington, The Isis Press/Institute of Turkish Studies, 1993. ISBN 0-941469-02-6
  • Studies in Defterology: Ottoman Society in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century Istanbul, Istanbul: Isis Press, 1992. ISBN 975-428-046-0
  • The Story Behind ‘Ambassador Morgenthau's Story’, Istanbul (Isis Press), 1990. ISBN 975-428-019-3. Translated into French, German and Turkish.
  • “The Turkish History: on What Sources Will it be Based? A Case Study on the Burning of Izmir”, The Journal of Ottoman Studies, Volume VIII (1989), pp. 1–29.
  • “Halide Edip Hanim in Ankara: April 2, 1920 - August 16, 1921”, I. Uluslarasi Atatürk Sempozyumu, Ankara, 1987, pp. 691–710.
  • Continuity and Change in Late Byzantine and Early Ottoman Society [with: A. Bryer et al.] Cambridge, MA & Birmingham, England: Dumbarton Oaks & University of Birmingham, 1985. ISBN 0-7044-0748-5
  • “Richard G. Hovannisian on Lieutenant Robert Steed Dunn”, The Journal of Ottoman Studies, Volume V (1985), pp. 209–252.
  • “The U.S. Congress and Adolf Hitler on the Armenians”, Political Communication and Persuasion, Volume 3, Number 2 (1985).
  • “Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Armenian Terrorism: ‘Threads of Continuity’,” International Terrorism and the Drug Connection, Ankara: Ankara University Press, 1984, pp. 71–83.
  • “American Observers in Anatolia ca 1920: The Bristol Papers”, in Bosphorus University (ed.), Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (1912-1926), Istanbul: Tasvir Press, 1984, pp. 42–58.
  • The Islamization and Turkification of Trabzon, 1461-1483. Istanbul (Bosphorus University Press), 1981 & 1999. ISBN 0-87850-102-9


  1. Wolfgang Behn, Handbuch der Orientalistik: Bio-Bibliographical Supplement to Index Islamicus, 1665-1980 (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch der Orientalistik), vol. 2 (Brill, 2006: ISBN 90-04-15037-4), p. 458.
  2. Haarman, Maria. Der Islam, p.302. C.H.Beck, 2002. ISBN 3-406-47640-6
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 https://www.princeton.edu/nes/people/display_person.xml?netid=ataturk&display=Core%20Faculty
  4. http://english.isam.org.tr/index.cfm?fuseaction=objects2.detail_content&cid=616&cat_id=21&chid=49
  5. Chorbajian, Levon. Studies in Comparative Genocide, p.xxxiii. Macmillan, 1999. ISBN 0-312-21933-4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 MacDonald, David B. Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide, p.121. Routledge, 2008. ISBN 0-415-43061-5.
  7. David B. MacDonald, Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. London: Routledge, 2008, p. 121. ISBN 0-415-43061-5.
  8. Balakian, Peter. The Burning Tigris. New York: HarperCollins, 2003, p. 383. ISBN 0-06-019840-0.
  9. Smith, Roger W.; Markusen, Eric; Lifton, Robert Jay. "Professional Ethics and the Denial of Armenian Genocide. Holocaust and Genocide Studies," 9 (1): 1–22.(Spring 1995).
  10. "Armenian Genocide Cannot Be Denied," letter to the editor from Robert Jay Lifton, New York Times, June 2, 1996.
  11. Smith et al. "Professional Ethics and the Denial of Armenian Genocide," 1–22.
  12. Michael M. Gunter, Armenian History and the Question of Genocide, New York-London, Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, p. 114.
  13. Winter, J.M. America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915, p.302. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-82958-5.
  14. Auron, Yair. The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide, New Brunswick NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2004, p. 258. ISBN 0-7658-0834-X.
  15. "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.
  16. The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005, pp. 140-142
  17. Alan Fisher, "Letter to the Editor", The New York Times, May 28, 1996.
  18. Richard G. Hovannisian on Lieutenant Robert Steed Dunn”, The Journal of Ottoman Studies, Volume V (1985), pp. 209–252.
  19. See Richard G. Hovannisian, "Scholarship and Politics," Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 2 (1985–86): pp. 169–185.

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