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Language Unites and Divides: Persian and Turkish in the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran in the Early Modern Era

Februar 20, 2019@7:00 pm9:00 pm

As a well-known anecdote from the beginning of the sixteenth century has it, both Shah Ismail I (r. 1501-24), the founder of the Safavid dynasty in Iran, and Qansu al-Ghawri (r. 1501-16), the penultimate Mamluk sultan of Egypt, composed poetry in Turkic, while their nemesis, the Ottoman sultan Selim I (r. 1512-20) was an excellent Persian poet. Just a few decades later, however, the distribution of these literary idioms changed and the Ottomans came to be heavily invested in Ottoman Turkish, while the Safavids sponsored primarily Persian for literary purposes. How can we account for this monumental cultural shift? Analyzing language ideologies in a handful of literary works produced during this period in either Persian or Turkish/Turkic, the paper revisits nationalist arguments about what changed during the sixteenth century in terms of the relationship between language, state, and religion.

Ferenc P. Csirkés received his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 2016 and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Sabancı University. Prior to that, he worked at the Central European University in Budapest and at the University of Tübingen. Straddling literary, intellectual, and cultural history, as well as historical sociolinguistics on the one hand, and Persian and Turkish on the other, his research focuses on the interrelation of the politics of language, confessionalization and state building in the larger Turko-Persian world during the late medieval and early modern periods.


Februar 20, 2019
7:00 pm-9:00 pm