Grad Student conference CFP: Ottoman and Turkish Studies

Call for Papers

Historical Continuities, Political Responsibilities:
Unsettling Conceptual Blind-Spots in Ottoman and Turkish Studies

Graduate Student Conference
May 4-5, 2007
New York University and The Graduate Center, CUNY

As the historiography of the Ottoman Empire is still mostly excluded
from the history of Europe, or only addressed as one of a formative
'other', this conference wants to bring into dialogue graduate
students who are faced with the particular fall-outs of Ottoman
historiography with regard to Turkey and the Middle East as well as
the Balkans and Eastern Europe, where scholarship has predominantly
focused on issues of post-socialism and Europeanization.
Historically and conceptually rooted in the discipline of
orientalist studies, much of the scholarship on regions formerly
subsumed under different forms of Ottoman governance, be they in
Europe or the Middle East, draws on a body of work that Talal Asad
and Roger Owen aptly described to have sought to understand
"non-European rule" "by looking for absent kinds of concepts --
'liberty', 'progress', 'humanism' which are supposed to be
distinctive of Western civilization" (1980, 35). More than 26 years
later, the engagements with Edward Said's critique of Orientalism
notwithstanding, this perspective has perpetuated a set of
standardized narratives, such as the notion of "belated modernity",
which has become an explanatory model for almost all political,
economic and social problems throughout the Balkans, Turkey and the
Middle East.

Through a rigorous discussion of the most prominent and central
arguments on the transition from empires to nation-states, this
workshop aims to break away from evaluations of the Ottoman Empire
as well as the historical trajectory of its successor states that
continue to operate along well-criticized dichotomous notions such
as "tradition and modernity", "religious and secular", "East and
West". These concepts are employed in official state-narratives and
academic discourses alike, although with often diametrically opposed
intentions. This workshop is particularly intended to problematize
the political and academic implications that this parallelism
produces in regard to understanding the history of the Ottoman
Empire as well as that of its former territories. We invite
participants to critically examine how these concepts have been,
and are, operationalized in both theory and practice when it comes
to issues such as "nationalism", "citizenship", "multiculturalism",
"ethnic conflict", "identity", "secularism", "democratization",
"state sovereignty" and the like.

Although sessions will be organized around the themes of submitted
papers, one major emphasis will be on present-day Turkey. Here, we
are particularly concerned with the many blind-spots that the
conceptual framework of Ottoman and Turkish studies has created and
perpetuated, among them the myth of radical rupture between the
Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic, the obscuration of the
religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity of Anatolia through
"retrospective Turkification", and the silences surrounding
different forms of state violence -- such as the history of military
coups, the Armenian genocide, the internal displacement of Kurds,
and other measures of "population engineering". This workshop also
seeks to question the ways in which critical approaches in the
social sciences have recently attempted to change the public
perception of Turkey's official historiography, while at the same
time staying circumscribed by the very conceptual framework of the
standardized narratives they seek to subvert.

For this interdisciplinary workshop, we invite contributions from
graduate students in the social sciences and humanities whose work
grapples with the above outlined conceptual limitations and
blind-spots permeating the majority of Ottoman and Turkish Studies
as well as related fields. Proposals need not necessarily be
limited to present-day Turkey, and we look forward to submissions
covering former Ottoman Empire territories. Finally, we encourage
proposals that not only aim to advance alternative theoretical
approaches, for instance, by employing a comparative framework, but
that are also sensitive to the political implications and
responsibilities of academic works in this area.

Abstracts should be between 200-300 words and are due on March 18,
2007. Applicants will be notified within one week after the
deadline. The workshop will take place from May 4-5, 2007 at New
York University and the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Please also provide a brief biography (200 word max), including
current academic affiliation and research interests.

This initial workshop is conceptualized as an exploratory discussion
ground for a publication and an accompanying conference planned for
early 2008.

Abstracts and inquiries should be addressed to <>.

This Graduate Student Conference is sponsored by:

The Center for International History at Columbia University
Department of Anthropology, Graduate Center (CUNY)
The Doctoral Student Council (DCS), Graduate Center (CUNY)
The Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC),
Graduate Center (CUNY)
The Provost's Office Professional Development Fund, Graduate Center
Wilf Department of Politics, MA Program; New York University


*Ozan Aksoy, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Music(Graduate Center,
CUNY, New York)
*Arman Artuç, Managing Editor, Hye Tert News Portal
*Bedross Der Matossian, Ph.D. Candidate, Department for Middle East
and Asian Languages and Cultures (Columbia University, New York)
*Ayda Erbal, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Politics (New York
University, New York)
*Banu Karaca, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Cultural Anthropology
(Graduate Center, CUNY, New York)
*Ceren Özgül, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Cultural Anthropology
(Graduate Center, CUNY, New York)