The lecture is a part of lecture series on Lecture series: Devlet and Divan: Mystical and State Authorities in Early Modernity
Discussing confessionalization in and interimperial rivalry between Safavid Iran and the Ottoman Empire in the mid-sixteenth century, the paper focuses on a short, fragmentary religious treatise titled Hikayat-i Yuhanna (‘The story of Yuhanna’) written in Turkic by a former Ottoman subject, one Gharibi of Menteshe, and dedicated to Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524-1576). It places the work against the background of both contemporary religious polemics and its literary connections, there being multiple versions of the story in Persian and Arabic circulating at the time. I will argue that Gharibi’s work was the product of a highly versatile and multi-faceted Safavid religious discourse ranging from the explicitly messianic to the establishment-friendly scholarly, and to attempts at reformulating the messianic ethos. The fact that the treatise is in Turkic and not in Persian, the language of choice for most intellectual activity in Iran at the time, ties in with the broader discussion of the history of Turko-Iranian religiosity, as well as early modern confessionalization and vernacularization.
Ferenc Csirkés received his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Sabancı University in Istanbul. Prior to that, he worked at CEU in Budapest and 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.