Julia Phillips

Vanderbilt University
Maurice Amado Foundation Fellowship

Research Topic

Cultural Crossings: Ottoman Jewish Merchants as Oriental Ambassadors


Julia Phillips Cohen is an associate professor in the Department of History and the Program in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. She specializes in Jewish history, the history of the Ottoman Empire, urban history, intercommunal relations in the modern Mediterranean, Judeo-Spanish history, and Jews in Islamic lands. She is currently researching Sephardi Jews’ evolving relationship to Spain and their Spanish past in the centuries following the expulsion.

Cohen earned her PhD in History from Stanford University. She has held fellowships at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Jerusalem.

Selected publications

  • Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era (Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700–1950 (Stanford University Press, 2014)



Applying an interdisciplinary approach to the richness and diversity of travel writing.


Delving into the meaning of modernity beyond the European, American, and Israeli contexts, looking instead to North Africa, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central and South Asia.