Grants Program

Research Grantees 2012-2013

Betül Başaran
Ph.D. University of Chicago

Betül Başaran's manuscript entitled "Between Crisis and Order: Selim III, Social Control, and Policing in İstanbul at the end of the 18th Century" examines the question of social stability and public order in Ottoman İstanbul in relation to the perceived problem of population increase and immigrants during the formative years of the reign of Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807). It is an attempt to interrogate the emergence of Ottoman modernity from within rather than through the prism of the "impact of the West." She is currently conducting follow-up research in İstanbul for the final revisions.
Birsen Bulmuş
Assistant Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, Appalachian State University

Dr. Birsen Bulmuş is assistant professor of modern Middle Eastern history at Appalachian State University. She is the author of Plague, Quarantines and Geopolitics in the Ottoman Empire (2012), published by Edinburgh University Press and distributed by Columbia University Press in North America. Her book is the most comprehensive study of plague in the Ottoman Empire from 1300 until the end of WWI through the perspective of plague. She first looked at the concept of plague and premodern medical, religious and magical measures taken to combat the disease. She then examined the establishment of quarantines and its geopolitical consequences for the survival of the Ottoman Empire vis-à-vis European colonial powers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She has used the ITS Post-Doctoral Summer Travel grant to Turkey to work on her new project a history of syphilis in the Ottoman Empire from 1492 until 1923.
Elise Burton

Elise Burton is a third-year doctoral student in Harvard's joint program for Middle Eastern Studies and History, specializing in the modern cultural and intellectual history of Turkey, Iran, and Israel. She has just begun work on her dissertation (working title: "Genetic Nationalism: Ethnic Mythmaking and Biological Research in Iran, Turkey and Israel"), a comparative history project in which she aims to analyze the relationships between 20th century political and social discourses of ethnic nationalism and the early development of human genetics research programs, as well as the connection between contemporary biogeography studies, national identity, and irredentism. Thanks to a summer language grant from ITS, she has spent the summer in İstanbul advancing her Turkish and studying the early 20th century publications of İstanbul University's biology faculty.
Nicholas Danforth
Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric and History, Georgetown University

Nicholas Danforth is a Ph.D. candidate in the Georgetown University History Department, where he is researching the relationship between ideology, history-writing and foreign policy in mid-century Turkey. Before coming to Georgetown, Nicholas served as the Turkey analyst for the Project on Middle East Democracy. His writing about contemporary politics has appeared in Foreign Policy, the American Prospect and the San Francisco Chronicle. Nicholas received his MA in Turkish Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2007 and his BA from Yale University in 2005.
Perin Gurel
Visiting Assistant Professor, American Studies, Dickinson College
Ph.D., American Studies, Yale University, 2010

I am currently Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies at Dickinson College and a fellow of the Yale Initiative for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religions. My first book, Wild Westernization: Gender, Sexuality, and the United States in Turkey, explores how conflicts over the concept of "westernization" in Turkey have historically influenced and continue to influence U.S.-Turkish relations, cultural production, and sexual politics.

With the generous support of the Institute of Turkish Studies Summer Research Grant, I was able to update a significant chapter of Wild Westernization: Chapter 4, "This is Not a Festival: Strategic Westernization and Class Wars in Gay İstanbul." This chapter focuses on contemporary LGBT alliances and contentions in İstanbul. The last time I performed qualitative research on the ground for this subject was during 2007-2008, when I was writing my dissertation. The field, however, has been changing day by day. Thanks to ITS grant, I was able to secure the resources necessary to check back in with my original interviewees, form new contacts, and attend and observe Pride Week activities in the summer of 2012. All in all, I held informal conversations with 20 activists/scholars and recorded in-depth interviews with 8 informants, representing 3 different organizations. In addition, I was able to organize a talk/workshop in İstanbul with Prof. George Chauncey of Yale University, in collaboration with Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association of Turkey (SPoD). Currently, a version of this chapter is in review as a peer-reviewed journal article and the book itself is under review with a university press.
Michael Christopher Low
Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University, Department of History

With the generous support of the Institute of Turkish Studies Summer Language Study Grant, I attended Yıldız Teknik University's Summer Ottoman Caligraphy and Paleography Program, organized by Sevim Yılmaz Önder. I wished to take an intensive course in Ottoman paleography in preparation for my research year in İstanbul and London. While at Yıldız Teknik, I worked closely with Sevim Yılmaz Önder and Abdullah Uğur. With their assistance, I was quickly able to progress from struggling with handwritten archival documents to confident reading, transliteration, and translation. While we were exposed to a wide variety of texts, ranging from divani to talik, I primary focused on rıka texts since most of my dissertation research will be based on Hamidian-era documents.

In addition to the intensive in-class training, the program enjoys the added benefit of close proximity to the Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi, where we were encouraged to explore our own research interests in preparation for a final presentation at the end of the course. For my project, I focused on two chapters of my dissertation dealing with Ottoman quarantine, sanitation, and water-safety procedures in the Hijaz and the Red Sea region aimed at preventing the spread of cholera carried by pilgrims arriving from the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia.
Emily Neumeier

Emily Neumeier received her Bachelor's Degree in 2008 from Boston College. After graduation she spent a year living in İstanbul on a Fulbright grant. Emily is now a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in Islamic art history, focusing on architecture, calligraphy, and painting within the late Ottoman Empire and the first decades of the Turkish Republic. Emily is currently residing in Turkey in order to conduct research and fieldwork for her dissertation, which will investigate the architectural patronage of provincial families in late 18th-century Anatolia.
Joakim Parslow

Joakim Parslow holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in Turkish Studies from the University of Oslo. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington's Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. His dissertation "Law on the Barricades: The Politics of Exceptional Justice in Turkey and Egypt" investigates the struggles over military and state security trials of civilians in Turkey and Egypt from the 1950s until the 1990s.
Kaya Şahin

Kaya Şahin received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 2007. He taught at Northwestern University (as a Mellon postdoctoral fellow) and Tulane University. He is currently an assistant professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. His research and writing have been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Newberry Library, and the Social Science Research Council. His first book, Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World, will be published in 2013 by Cambridge University Press.

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