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Self-narratives between Empire and Nation-state: Three Lives in Transition

Mai 22, 2023 @ 3:30 pm5:30 pm

Invitation to an Online Lecture

Prof. Benjamin Fortna
University of Arizona

Self-narratives between Empire and Nation-state: Three Lives in Transition

Monday, 22 May 2023, 17:30 (Turkish time; GMT +3)
This talk draws on the lives of three disparate individuals who were caught up in the process by which the Ottoman Empire gave way to the era of nation states: Pervin Sencer, Hussein Fakhri al-Khalidi and Henry Dobbs.  These three figures differed in many respects, not least gender, ethnicity, indigeneity, as well as the nature of the sources they left behind.  Nevertheless, some common attributes are clear.  First, each author introduces a remarkable collection of historical personalities, giving us glimpses (and sometimes much more) of these figures we might not otherwise encounter.  Secondly, each autobiographer engages in what we might call “setting the record straight.”  A common, contrarian attitude infuses these writings, animating their historical perspectives and/or grievances while also setting themselves squarely in the narrative frame.  Thirdly, each set of writings serves up the kind of historical detail and anecdote that brings those respective narratives to life.  Whether it’s a description of Pervin’s daily tribulations, Hussein Fakhri’s forensically specific memories, or Dobbs’ eye for the telling anecdotal snippet, this level of specificity contrasts vividly with the broader historical sweep of these lives of transition, adding a human perspective to the otherwise often overwhelmingly broad scope of this period of rapid change.

Benjamin C. Fortna is Professor and Director of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona and formerly Professor of the History of the Middle East, SOAS, University of London.  His research focuses on the history of the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic. His publications include The Circassian: A Life of Eşref Bey, Late Ottoman Insurgent and Special Agent (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2016), Childhood in the Late Ottoman Empire and After, ed. (Brill, 2016), Learning to Read in the Late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and Imperial Classroom: Islam, Education and the State in the Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2002).


Mai 22, 2023
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm


Andrea Selimoğlu
+90 – 212 293 60 67
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Orient-Institut Istanbul
Şahkulu Mah., Galip Dede Cad. No. 65
Beyoğlu, İstanbul 34421 Turkey
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+90 212 293 60 67
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