Deborah Tor

Deborah Tor


Associate Professor

Graduate Program Field

Medieval History


Medieval Islamic History


Ph.D., Harvard University

Research and Teaching Interests

Tor specializes in the political, social, religious, and military history of the medieval Middle East and Central Asia, from the rise of Islam until the 13th century. Her publications include the books Violent Order: Religious Warfare, Chivalry, and the ʿAyyār Phenomenon in the Medieval Islamic World (2007), which traced the privatization of Jihad in the 8th century and the rise of independent militias in the central Islamic lands, demonstrating the importance of these groups in both the disintegration of the Caliphate and the formation of Islamic chivalry; and, together with A.C.S. Peacock, Medieval Central Asia and the Persianate World: Iranian Tradition and Islamic Civilisation (2015), which explores the period of the autonomous Persianate dynasties (c. 850-1220). Additionally, she has published numerous refereed articles and encyclopedia entries in leading journals and reference works in the field, on topics including medieval Islamic military slavery; the survival and Islamization of Late Antique Iranian traditions of rulership; the appointment of the eighth Shi'ite Imam as heir apparent to the 'Abbasid throne; and a numismatic history of the first of the Persianate successor dynasties to arise in the Islamic heartlands.

Tor teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on the medieval Middle East and Central Asia.


Tor has won numerous research grants and awards, including major fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research, and Harvard University. Tor’s current projects include the following: A monograph on the Great Seljuq Dynasty (1040-1194) for Cambridge University Press, examining critical historical problems related to this first of the successive waves of Central Asian invaders which inaugurated the millennium-long Turco-Mongol domination of the Middle East; serving as one of the editors for the medieval volume of the Cambridge World History of Violence (forthcoming 2018); and editing a comparative volume on Carolingian and ʿAbbāsid history (forthcoming 2017).   For recent and forthcoming articles and books, please consult the publications list found on the CV link below.

Contact Information

Office: 460 Decio
Phone: 574-631-7214

Mailing Address:
Department of History
219 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556


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