Symposium - Xenophobia and Alterophobia in Pre-Modern Ottoman Lands, October 22-23, 2015, University of Chicago


April 15, 2015

Opportunity Cover Image - Symposium - Xenophobia and Alterophobia in Pre-Modern Ottoman Lands, October 22-23, 2015, University of Chicago

A Symposium organized by Hakan T. Karateke (University of Chicago); Helga Anetshofer (University of Chicago), and Erdem Çıpa (University of Michigan)

Historians know well that post-nationalist societies are not unique in nurturing dislike, hostility, or hatred of foreigners and members of marginalized subcultures. Positioning certain groups against perceived outsiders or alternative groups within the same society is a salient feature of bygone societies as well. In fact, it is fair to say that the distrust of outsiders is an essential condition of society throughout history.

Recent historical studies on the Ottoman Empire, as well as a contemporary Turkish political rhetoric that glorifies the Ottoman enterprise, have lately taken for granted that subjects of the Ottoman polity flourished under the so-called “Pax Ottomanica.” The widely accepted view posits that the economic and social stability of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire made it a safe and secure environment for a peaceful coexistence. Historical sources, however, suggest that the social and cultural realities of the Ottoman era were far more complex. In an effort to fill a major lacuna in the accepted narratives of Ottoman society, our symposium focuses on two related themes: xenophobia and alterophobia.

This symposium aims to reconstruct, to the extent possible, the mind-set of people living in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ottoman lands. Presenters will explore patterns in expressions of dislike in literature, historiography, and religious texts, but particularly in those texts that one would classify as “ego documents,” such as memoirs or otherwise personalized accounts. By studying a range of historical narratives, we will be able to develop rare insight into the self-described perceptions of individuals. Perceptions are necessarily difficult to delineate, and can be open to multiple interpretations. One needs usually to read carefully between the lines, sweep through the adjectives used about a group of people, and compare expressions uttered about various other groups in order to reconstruct a perception. However, utilizing a range of historical narratives yields opportunities to identify people’s perceptions which can become a very useful tool to understand the intricate workings of bygone societies.



We encourage historians, literary historians, art historians, sociologists working with historical data, as well as those who think that they would bring comparative perspectives to the topic to submit a proposal for the symposium.

Pending funding, round trips to Chicago and accommodation will be covered by the organizers.

NOTICE: The organizers are determined to collect the developed articles by February 1, 2016 and prepare the volume for publication as quickly as possible. Therefore, those who think that they can not provide an article by that deadline are kindly asked not to apply for the symposium.

Please send your 300-word abstracts to symposium coordinator Nazlı İpek Hüner ( 15, 2015.

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April 13, 2015