The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the Huntington Library, the United States Consulate in Istanbul, and Bogaziçi University invite proposals for papers and workshops to be presented at a conference on “Ottoman and Atlantic Empires in the Early Modern World” to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, October 19-21, 2005.
In the early modern world two of the principal zones of imperial expansion were in the eastern Mediterranean, fostered under the suzerainty of the Ottomans, and around the North Atlantic rim, driven by the competition among European monarchies. Two events in the fifteenth century signaled the intensification of contact and rivalry. The interconnections between Europeans and Ottomans became more intense with the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, and Columbus’s voyage to the west in 1492 marked the onset of European penetration into the Western hemisphere and beyond. Although the timing and particularities of empire formation varied, contacts between the Ottomans and Europeans, knowledge of each other, and desires for each other’s territory and goods influenced their respective political agendas, religious views, mental constructs, economic goals, and cultural values. This conference calls for historically grounded cross-cultural comparisons that will explore such intersections between Ottoman and Atlantic (particularly Anglo-American) empires and world views in the early modern era.
The conference will take two forms, one consisting of formal sessions with papers and the second constituting methodological and historiographical workshops focused on primary sources. The program will be structured so as to match or create workshops that coincide with themes in the sessions. The workshops will then serve as critique and commentary on the formal presentations. We expect that Ottoman scholars will read in the histories of early modern European empires in the North Atlantic, and American and British historians will read in the history of the early modern Ottoman empire.
Proposals for formal papers might deal with interactions between people residing in the Ottoman and/or Atlantic (and especially Anglo-American) empires. They might include, but are not limited to, discussions of travelers and their accounts, political structures, commercial networks, social relationships, and questions of diversity.
Our hope is that the methodologies and historiographies of historians of the Atlantic world will shed new light on the materials of Ottoman historians, and vice versa. Thus, each workshop will focus on analyses of primary sources from both the Ottoman and Atlantic worlds and perspectives. The workshops will be informal, will build off of a series of (probably on-line) discussions between the participants, and will be considered as experiments in cross-cultural and/or comparative conversation. These workshops will make up the more experimental aspect of the conference. We envision a series of sessions that would allow Ottoman and Atlantic empire scholars together to consider the most basic differences and commonalities in their fields, by exploring key texts for what these reveal about the various empires and about the ways in which these have been or can be studied. Proposals for contributions to workshops should propose a specific document or group of documents in your field. These may be newly-discovered or well-known. It is critical, though, that they be accessible to scholars in the other field (most obviously, this means that Ottoman documents must be translated into English).
Both papers and workshops might coalesce around the following topics:
Early stages of empire building. In the Ottoman case, the focus will be upon the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries; in the English case, it will be on the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Cultural exchanges between empires and indigenous peoples. The English, the French, the Spanish, and the Ottomans all had to contend with a host of peoples in regions of empire building. It is likely that both religion and trade will constitute important sub-themes of this topic.
Law and lawlessness. The creation of legal structures and legal codes in diverse environments is common to the early modern imperial experience. In each case, these vary over place and time, and influence the authority and legitimacy of the state.
Resistance to empire. Not only resistance and rebellion, but also cooptation characterized early modern empires.
Cultural constructs and identities. Both the Ottoman and Atlantic world empires were continuously evolving. They also persistently generated new and evolving identities among their various subject peoples.
The deadline for submission of proposals is August 2, 2004. Please send a proposal of no more than 500 words along with a one-page curriculum vitae.
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