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Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 1:1-2 (2014): 3-21 Virginia H. Aksan What’s Up in Ottoman Studies? Earlier this year, an email appeared in my inbox inquiring whether it was true that Turkey might have a legitimate claim to Crimea, annexed unilaterally, it will be remembered, by Russia in 1783. The query, by an editorial assistant at a publishing house, prompts two thoughts. Yes, the Ottoman Empire now has a real presence in the firmament of global history, if the query is an indication of that. Curiosity about the Ottomans is immense among students and scholars alike and has stimulated much specific and cross-imperial rethinking of the meaning and significance of the Ottoman presence in Eurasia and the Mediterranean. But the question also suggests that there is still work to do. New beginnings deserve some reflection. We are all indebted to current OTSA president Mark Stein, his Board and members for their willingness to rename the Turkish Studies Association, which has represented us since 1965, as the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. We should also acknowledge the willingness of Kent Schull at Binghamton University, and Robert Zens, at Le Moyne College, to reorganize the Turkish Studies Association Journal as the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. It seems very fitting that SUNY Binghamton should support the publication of the journal, as it was the home institution of the late Donald Quataert, who always insisted that the community would be better served by an association which acknowledged in its name that it included scholars of both the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. So, in celebration of that milestone, I volunteered to say a few words about the state-of-the-field. As with all such efforts, mine will be idiosyncratic, concentrating largely on the discipline of history, and reflecting publication activity of the last decade only.1 Following some general comments, I will use a select number of recent interdisciplinary publications to consider the current strengths of Ottoman studies. These comments will be organized, as needed, under three rubrics: the early; the not so early, and, the even later empire, to avoid epistemological resistance to terms such as medieval, renaissance, early modern, westernization, modernization, and the like. There will be no talk of the problem of periodization, which is a reflection of what is happening in world/global history. When all of us can press an app to find a specific date, what need is there to organize history in traditional ways? The study of empire(s) is flourishing. Comparisons with other Asian empires— Qing China and Japan—are becoming part of textbook narratives and university  Virginia H. Aksan is a Professor in the Department of History at McMaster University, Hamilton, ON; email: vaksan@mcmaster.edu 1 For an earlier attempt, see Virginia Aksan, "The Muslim World: Recent Scholarship on the Ottoman Middle East," Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies 34:4 (2011): 535-42. Virginia Aksan 4 courses. Multiple manuscripts on Austro-Russian-Ottoman geopolitics are out or on the way; Ottoman-Safavid/Sunni-Shiite contestations and borderlands are receiving long deserved attention, and of course the European-Ottoman entanglement is significantly much more knotted across disciplines than it once was. Power, processes, and violence continue as topics in global history, and may be one way historians, at least, cope with the simple horror of current events, but the shift is very largely to the human side of history—what happens to peoples across time. As the field matures, seminal works such as those of Braudel, Hodgson, Hourani, Wallerstein, Inalcık and Lewis, are challenged, dismissed and/or enlarged. The reassessment of Braudel has, for example, created an entire new area, Mediterranean studies, that is already being taught in a number of programs. The fundamental work of editing texts and deep study of institutions continues, of course, as it must to fill in some deep holes, but there is far more emphasis on local (indigenous) Middle Eastern populations and societies as they fit into the ebb and flow of global-trends than there once was. If the study of the Ottomans has a niche, it is as a non-western empire, reflected...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2376-0702
Print ISSN
2376-0699
Pages
pp. 3-21
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-18
Open Access
No
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