The Ottoman Empire: History, Memory and Literature | Saturday, June 10 at 2:45 PM – 4:15 PM | FREE and OPEN TO PUBLIC 

Panelists: Dr. Selim S. Kuru, Dr. Thomas Kuehn, Ph.D., Arlen Wiesenthal

The Ottoman Empire: History, Memory and Literature

VTFF is proud to be collaborating with professors from Simon Fraser University and University of Washington on a discussion panel around the theme of “Ottomanism”.

 

The Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state and society, ruled by a Muslim dynasty (The House of Osman), that existed from the late Medieval period until the early 1920s (c. 1299-1922). At its greatest extent in the late seventeenth century, it spanned three continents (with borders from modern Morocco to Iran, and from Ukraine to Sudan) and housed a mixed multitude of linguistic and religious groups.

While many people in North America have never heard of the Ottoman Empire, international public interest in its legacy has seen a resurgence in recent years. In some cases, this interest has taken the form of popular books “explaining” the contemporary problems of the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeastern Europe by locating the origins of modern sectarian and geopolitical unrest in the complex history of the empire’s last centuries. At the same time, more nostalgic recollections of all things Ottoman have begun to gain sway in the realm of popular entertainment, as evidenced by the success of the Turkish soap opera “Magnificent Century” (Muhteşem Yüzyıl) which depicts life at the Ottoman court in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Furthermore, new buzzwords like “neo-Ottomanism” have emerged in public and scholarly contexts to describe (and at times denigrate) the domestic and foreign policy of the ruling party of the Republic of Turkey (an Ottoman successor state), which has come to profess a pronounced interested in certain aspects of the Ottoman past.

Given these developments and complications, how might we make sense of the Ottoman past in our twenty-first-century present?

Panelists:

Dr. Selim S. Kuru

Associate Professor and Department Chair,
Near Eastern Languages and Civilization
University of Washington

Dr. Selim Sırrı Kuru is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. He received his Ph.D. degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization from Harvard University in 2000. He is the chair and director of Turkish and Ottoman and Persian and Iranian Studies Programs. Dr. Kuru′s work focuses on Ottoman 14th-16th centuries Anatolian literary history, textual studies, genres with respect to the topic of love, mysticism, and its place in the elite Ottoman society.

Dr. Thomas Kuehn, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of History
Simon Fraser University

Dr. Thomas Kuehn is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University and an associate member of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies. Educated at Freiburg (MA 1996), Oxford (M.St. 1998), and New York University (Ph.D. 2005), Thomas Kuehn specializes in the political, social, and cultural history of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey as well as in the comparative history of colonialism in the modern Middle East.

He is the author of numerous articles in scholarly journals. His first book titled “Empire, Islam, and Politics of Difference. Ottoman Rule in Yemen, 1849-1919” was published by Brill Academic Publishers in the fall of 2011. Thomas’s current research centers on the culture and politics of Ottoman imperial rule, with a particular concern for the Mediterranean regions and Arab borderlands of the Ottoman Empire.

Thomas has traveled widely in the Middle East and has done extensive research in Turkey, Lebanon, Yemen, and the United Kingdom. He has received numerous research grants, including from the Social Science Research Council in New York, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Skiliter Centre for Ottoman Studies at the University of Cambridge, the German National Scholarship Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.

During the academic year 2015-16, he also served as the director of SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (CCSMSC).

Beyond his academic work, Thomas has commented on current Middle East politics on theCBC, Public Radio International (PRI), and Global TV BC.

Arlen Wiesenthal,

Historian from SFU

Arlen Wiesenthal is a historian of the Ottoman Empire. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at Simon Fraser University in 2015 with a focus on Middle East and Islamic History, and a Master of Arts in Ottoman history in 2017. While Arlen’s central focus lies in the Ottoman world (circa 1299-1922) and on the Ottoman dynasty, his work is more generally concerned with the ways that the social and cultural presence of dynastic institutions colored the experiences and worldviews of persons who inhabited their respective imperial domains. He will begin a Ph.D program in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago in Fall 2017.

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