Workshop: The Ottoman Empire and the 'Germansphere' in the Age of Imperialism, July 29-31 2021, Zurich

Elife Biçer-Deveci's picture

This workshop examines relations between the late Ottoman Empire (1878-1922) and the “Germansphere.” We employ the term “Germansphere” to designate a region shaped by a strong influence of the German language and common forms of cultural literacy, which comprises at its core the countries Germany, Austria(-Hungary), and Switzerland. Using insights from transnational and new imperial history our contributions address the question: under which circumstances did relations between the Ottomans and the Germansphere accommodate, support, or contradict the logics and structures of (informal) imperialism?

Conveners: Elife Biçer-Deveci, Ulrich Brandenburg

Places: ETH Zurich and University of Zurich

For registration, contact



Day 1 July 29, 2021


Public keynote lecture

Yavuz Köse (University of Vienna): “Rıza Nur and his Vienna Letters”


Day 2 July 30, 2021


Introductory remarks

Elife Biçer-Deveci, Ulrich Brandenburg: “Why Examine Ottoman-Germansphere Relations?”


Coffee break


Panel I: Scientific Exchanges

Chair and discussant: Maurus Reinkowski (University of Basel)

Elife Biçer-Deveci (ETH Zurich): “Anti-Alcohol Movement and Transnational Networks in the Ottoman Empire”

Barbara Henning (University of Mainz): “German-Speaking Orientalists with an Interest in Kurdish Studies and Their Local Interlocutors: Encounters, Co-Productions and (Mis-)Representations”


Lunch break


Panel II: Diplomatic Contacts

Chair and discussant: Hans-Lukas Kieser (University of Newcastle)

Giorgio Ennas (European University Institute): “Demanding Reciprocity: Ottoman-Swiss Negotiations During the First World War”

Tobias Völker (University of Hamburg): “Two Generations of Mordtmanns in Istanbul. Scholarly and Diplomatic Exchanges in Changing Political Circumstances”


Day 3 July 31, 2021


Panel III: Interpersonal Encounters

Chair and discussant: Ulrich Brandenburg

Umar Ryad (KU Leuven): “Berlin through Arab-Ottoman Eyes”

Sarah Khayati (University of Basel): “My name is Alfred": Migration of non-Muslim Ottomans to Switzerland in the aftermath of World War I”


Brownbag lunch and final discussion