[P6106] Mobility of Scholars and Knowledge in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire: New Sources and Revisionist Approaches

Created by Hasan Umut
Thursday, 10/08/20 01:30 pm


Over the last decade, one has witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of studies that uncover aspects of scholarly activities during the early modern Ottoman period. Despite their contribution to our understanding of Ottoman intellectual history, many of them have exclusively focused on Istanbul, with the assumption that it was the main hub of learning in the Empire, along with being its political center. Acknowledging the importance of Istanbul-based scholarship in developing new insights for the field, however, this panel focuses on different geographies of the Empire, scrutinizing examples in which roles the 'center' and 'peripheries' played in the making of early modern Ottoman intellectual life are interrelated and dialectically transformative. The panel's papers propose revisionist perspectives regarding such issues as interplay between knowledge and sovereignty, impact of 'periphery-based' scholars on the flourishing and sustaining of various sciences, transmission of knowledge and establishment of epistemic networks across the Ottoman lands, and ways in which political fluctuations could affect scholars' mobility. They also emphasize that intellectual, linguistic, geographical, and political diversity were among the major characteristics of early modern Ottoman intellectual life.
The first paper focuses on a career decision and the subsequent relocation of Molla Fenari (d. 1431) in order to question his "Ottomanness," which has long been considered by early modern Ottoman(izing) biographers and modern historians, vs. the intellectual independence he assigned to himself in his relation to the political authority. The second paper discusses the Ottoman reception of Ali al-Qushji's (d. 1474) astronomical works in order to stress that science was studied in multiple languages, and that science education was a way of establishing scholarly networks across the Empire. The third paper explores how a circle of polymath scholars in Ottoman Kurdistan reached the imperial judicial-educational hierarchy amidst the backdrop of seventeenth-century crises, by visualizing, through digital mappings, their mobility, patronage system, and network relations across the Empire. The fourth paper scrutinizes Müneccimbashi Ahmed Dede's (d. 1702) scholarly activities in Mecca and Medina in order to remark connections between the Turkish speaking (Rum) and Arabic speaking parts of the Empire, and how interconnected these intellectual milieus were. In order to support their arguments, the papers use various types of analysis, including close and distant readings of contemporary biographical dictionaries and scientific textbooks, prosopographic analysis through digital mappings, and content- and context-based examination of the mobility of scholars and knowledge.





Hasan Umut

(Bogazici University & Istanbul Foundation for Research and Education)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Fikri Cicek

(University of Minnesota)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mehmet Emin Gulecyuz

(The University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Didar Ayse Akbulut

(Harvard University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;