Convergences and Conflicts: Late Ottoman Identities


Fri, 02/15/2013 - 3:00pm to Mon, 01/24/2022 - 3:51pm
This talk addresses the complexity of being Ottoman in the late nineteenth century. It looks at questions of imperial belonging, supranational and national identities in the Ottoman Empire, especially focusing on its Greek Orthodox urban groups. It examines the specific discourses within the Orthodox millet articulated in response to ‘Tanzimat Ottomanism’. The general approach in the talk is to treat identities not as singular, given, and constant categories, rather as multiple and in flux. In the last decades of the empire, multiple allegiances, and converging and conflicting identities were part of the mixed and mingled populations of major Ottoman cities which some historians have tended to refer to as the phenomenon of ‘cosmopolitanism’. One of the objectives of the talk is to open up a discussion over this term, and as opposed to the colonial or semi-colonial framework with which the term has been almost exclusively associated, to point to the internal and indigenous social and cultural fermentations which did not necessarily derive from an increased Western impact on the different levels of the society. As a remarkable space of inter-communal interaction, collaboration, and debate, the talk will finally focus on discussions over musical heritage between Ottoman Muslims and Greeks where inclusivist and exclusivist identity discourses met and clashed with one another.
Merih Erol completed her Ph.D. in History in 2009 with a dissertation on music, identity, and nationalism in the Greek Orthodox community in late Ottoman Empire. As a post-doctoral research fellow at Max-Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in the Program for the History of Emotions, she expanded her research interests into the study of emotions, religious belief, and worship. In 2011-2012, Erol was a postdoctoral research associate at Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. During the Summer of 2012, she continued her research at Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, the School of Historical Studies. She is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Center for European Studies. Her research languages are Ottoman Turkish and Modern Greek; she is fluent in English and German, and advanced in French. She also holds a M.A. degree in Sociology on contemporary Turkey with a thesis entitled, New Modes of Creating Public Space: The Case of Kalan Müzik (The Record Label Company Kalan).

MENAS Colloquium Series, Spring 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013

3pm in Marshall 490

Watch a video of the talk