Sarah Epping


Since 2015

Doctoral Candidate at the Graduate School of North American Studies,

Freie Universität Berlin

2010 - 2014

Master of Arts in History and Middle Eastern Studies,
Universität zu Köln

2009 - 2010

Course in Modern Standard Arabic at the Higher Language Institute,

University of Damscus

2006 - 2010

Bachelor of Arts in History and Middle Eastern Studies,
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Professional Experience:

08/2013 - 09/2014

Research assistant at DOMiD - Dokumentationszentrum und Museum über die Migration in Deutschland e.V., Köln

05/2013 - 07/2013

Internship at the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung in Amman, Jordan


The United States in Mesopotamia (Iraq), to 1921

Short Outline of my Research Project

America´s penetration of the Middle East in the 19th century was, compared to other nations, slow. Mostly American merchants and missionaries were attracted to this faraway region, although with time, journalists and travelers who wanted to see the sites referred to in the bible came as well. In addition, American professionals like archeologists, and craftsmen who helped rebuild the Ottoman navy and officers who modernized parts of the army all came to the Ottoman Empire.


While Americans were fewer in number than Europeans, they still reached every corner of the Ottoman Empire. Mostly staying close to the Mediterranean Sea, a few made their way to the area of the present Iraqi state, which during the 19th century, consisted of three political rather unimportant border provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The penetration of this area was facilitated by the help of foreign investors who supported the development of infrastructure which reflects the growing importance of the region as its relations with “the West” started to intensify. However in contrast to Europeans, American activities were not directed or guided by the government since they did not take part in the political power play of the other European empires in the region.


This political non-involvement makes the American approach to the area so unique and therefore, interesting to look at. Hence, my dissertation project asks about the diversity of the American-Mesopotamian relations up to the establishment of the Kingdom of Iraq in March 1921. It tries to pinpoint decisive, long-term personal, cultural, political and economic interactions between the United States and a region that we know very little about even though it plays such a central role in today’s U.S. relations to the Middle East. It aims to depict a structural picture of early interdependencies of both nations and to interpret them as part of a slowly globalizing world.

van der Walle, Sarah: Die Mission des Major Klein nach Mesopotamien. In: Historische Mitteilungen der Ranke-Gesellschaft 26 (2013/2014), p. 277-293.