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Historicizing Sunnism in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (15th-17th Centuries), Tijana Krstic (CEU)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Historians of the post-Mongol Eurasia have noted that before the early 1500s the Turco-Iranian world was characterized by a marked ambiguity between Sunnism and Shiism, but that subsequently the imperial rivarly between the Ottomans and Safavids triggered a rise in "sectarian consciousness," prompting articulations of an "imperial" Sunnism and Shiism the legacy of which we still see today. The lecture will reflect on this development and focus on the nature of Ottoman Sunnism as it was fashioned and taught by various agents of "Sunnitization" in tandem with the growing imperial enterprise from the mid-fifteenth to the late seventeenth centuries. It will explore how the Ottomans engaged with the Sunni tradition of the preceding centuries and mobilized it to deal with the new religio-political realities of the early modern world. The lecture will also highlight the lack of homogeneity within the Ottoman Sunni landscape along regional and other lines of differentiation.

Tijana Krstic is a historian of the early modern Ottoman Empire and its place in and connections with the wider early modern world.  She is interested in social, cultural and religious history, especially in circulation of texts, artifacts, people and religio-political concepts across imperial, cultural and confessional boundaries.  Her first project explored how various Ottoman Muslim and Christian authors narrated the phenomenon of conversion to Islam in the empire's formative period, between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.  It resulted in the book entitled Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change and Communal Politics in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford University Press, 2011). Currently, she is the Primary Investigator on the project entitled "The Fashioning of a Sunni Orthodoxy and the Entangled Histories of Connfession Building in the Ottoman Empire, 15th-17th Centuries" (OTTOCONFESSION), which is funded by the European Research Council's Consolidator Grant, 2015-2020.