ANN: Knowledge Systems and Ottoman-European Encounters: Spatial and Social Dynamics (June 2021, online)

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June 10, 2021 to June 11, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, European History / Studies, Intellectual History, Middle East History / Studies

Conveners: Daniel Ursprung, Department of East European History, University of Zurich (, Stefan Rohdewald, Chair History of East- and Southeastern Europe, University of Leipzig (, together with the research group "The Ottoman Europe: Methods and Perspectives of Early Modern Studies on Southeast Europe" ( and the Priority Programme Transottomanica (


International Conference June 10-11, 2021, University of Zurich/ online via Zoom


Conference: Knowledge Systems and Ottoman-European Encounters. Spatial and Social Dynamics

Content, Research Questions:

Knowledge Systems and Ottoman-European Encounters: Spatial and Social Dynamics

Science, commerce, military, religion and authorities: in all these domains, everyday knowledge was from time immemorial collected and condensed into written knowledge. But content, structure and social relevance of knowledge are always historically contingent. The conference is asking thus for the importance of the Ottoman Empire in a history of European knowledge in the Early Modern Period. We focus on knowledge from or about the Ottoman Empire. We address two broader questions: from a spatial perspective, how can the Ottoman Empire be included into a European history of knowledge? From a social viewpoint: how was knowledge inside or about the Ottoman Empire organized and what kind of social functions can there be distinguished?

Spaces of knowledge
The development of Early Modern science was strongly influenced by (west-)European-Ottoman encounters. But to what degree was the Ottoman Empire an object of European knowledge systems? What contexts and players promoted or impeded the circulation of knowledge between the Ottoman Empire and other regions of Europe, including its Eastern parts? Which channels and forms were used for the communication of knowledge? What was the status of knowledge from or about the Ottoman Empire in European knowledge hierarchies and classification-systems?

Social functions
History of knowledge about the Ottoman Empire has long been focused on a classical history of science, technology and religion. Only recently, there is a shift towards conceptualising knowledge as a fundamental social practice for all kinds of human interaction. We are thus interested in social practices and discourses and their organizing or fragmentizing effects on social relations. What was the social relevance of different kinds of knowledge and which were the places of knowledge-production? Which kind of knowledge was privileged or legitimized by whom and in which contexts?


Thursday, June 10, 2021

14:00 (12:00 UTC) Greeting, Opening – Introduction 

14.30 – 16.00 – Moderation: Stefan Rohdewald (Leipzig)
- Sundar Henny (Bern): A new Nebuchadnezzar? The Ottoman conquest of the Holy Land as reflected in European pilgrimage accounts
- Huseyin Yilmaz (Fairfax VA): Early modern intellectual encounters and knowledge production in Istanbul: Katip Celebi’s cosmopolitan circle and synthesis of information
- Nikolas Pissis (Berlin): Ottoman Greek Elites and the Mediation of Russian-Ottoman exchange (17th and early 18th centuries)

16:00 – 16:30 Break 

16:30 – 18:00  Moderation: Daniel Ursprung (Zurich)
- Kenan Tekin (Cambridge, MA): Genealogies of early modern Ottoman conception of science
- Giorgio Ennas (Florence): “Dualising” the Ottoman society. Mirroring the east-west contraposition within the Ottoman social structure
- N. Zeynep Yelçe/Ela Bozok (Istanbul, Florence): Gossip, rumors, and facts: The year 1521

18:00 – 18:10 Short Break 

18:10 – 18:30 Organizational Meeting of the Research Group "The Ottoman Europe: Methods and Perspectives of Early Modern Studies on Southeast Europe" open to anyone interested

Get-together on – open end 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Start: 14:00 (12:00 UTC)

14:00 – 15:30  Moderation: Konrad Petrovszky (Vienna)
- Dennis Dierks (Jena) & Barbara Henning (Mainz): How to track down, capture and map out knowledge on the move in a Transottoman perspective? - Recent findings and open questions
- Barbara Henning (Mainz): Descendants of the Prophet and their privileges as a topic in Ottoman political thought: Legacies and late-Ottoman re-interpretations
- Dennis Dierks (Jena): Is there something like Transottoman intellectual history? The example of peripheral Muslim reformism

15:30 – 16:00 Break 

16.00 – 17.00 Moderation: Markus Koller (Bochum)
- Elke Katharina Wittich (Hannover): „Pathosformeln“ of other People - Graphics for the Imprinting of pictorial Memories in mid-16th Century
- Lara Mehling (Zurich): The irony of imperial decorative styles: The role of diversity in the production of unified cultural identities

17:00 – 17:30 Break 

17.30 – 19.00 Moderation: Nada Boškovska (Zürich)

- Eva Asboth (Wien): Preparing the “Oriental Europe” for Habsburg’s expansion. Felix Kanitz and the Viennese scientific circle as spatial knowledge producers on the Balkans in the 19th century
- Zsuzsa Barbarics-Hermanik (Graz): The European Republic of Letters and the Ottoman Empire: Knowledge Transfer and Networks of Knowledge in the Age of the Enlightenment
- Nikos Magouliotis (Zurich): “The authentic Greek village-house of the northern regions”: Nationalization and folklorization of Ottoman residential architecture in Greece

19.00 – 19.30

- Final Discussion, Concluding Remarks

Get-together on – open end

Contact Info: 

The Conference will be held on Zoom and is open to everyone interested. To get the Link to the Zoom-Meeting, please send a message to