Apr 30, 2016

Ecevit, Art, and Politics in 1950s Turkey

with Sarah-Neel Smith

hosted by Nicholas Danforth

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Although artistic production occurs in a political context, art and politics are often studied as separate fields of historical inquiry. Our guest in this episode, Dr. Sarah-Neel Smith, offers a reflection on the close relationship between art and politics in Turkey through a discussion of her research on the figure of Bülent Ecevit. As a politician, Ecevit is remembered for his four stints as Prime Minister of Turkey and his prominent positions in the Republican People's Party (CHP) and later in the Democratic Left Party (DSP). Yet during the early years of his career, Ecevit was also extremely active in intellectual pursuits as a writer and art critic. In this episode, Dr. Smith explores the intellectual life of Bülent Ecevit and the link between debates about art and culture and the development of democratic politics in Turkey during the 1950s.

Apr 27, 2016

Morocco’s New Migrant Class

with Isabella Alexander

hosted by Graham Cornwell

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“Hrig,” the Moroccan Arabic term for “illegal” immigration, translates to “burning.” In the latest episode of Tajine, Isabella Alexander discusses the dramatic rise in sub-Saharan migrants attempting to enter the E.U. from Morocco - now the primary entry point for all African migrations north. As Spanish officials start exploring their border controls further south in response,  hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharans now find themselves trapped in Morocco. Their act of “burning” signifies the literal burning of their identification papers to avoid repatriation when arrested by European authorities, but also the symbolic burning of their pasts in hopes of a better future abroad. They wait in sprawling slums outside of Moroccan cities, scraping together enough money to attempt the journey into Spain by boat or by land once again. But, what happens when their position in this liminal space—Morocco—becomes a permanent one?

Apr 21, 2016

Antoura



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During World War I, the Lazarist college at Antoura, in the mountains of Mt. Lebanon north of Beirut, was taken over by Cemal Pasha to be used as an orphanage for Armenian and Kurdish orphans. Turkish feminist Halide Edib recounts in her memoirs that the time she spent as director of the orphanage during the war was among the happiest periods of her life. In this episode, Professor Selim Deringil discusses his new project, a film about the Antoura orphanage and its orphans during the war, painting a very different picture from that which emerges from Edip's memoirs. The film, entitled "After This Day," is produced and directed by Nigol Bezjian. View a trailer here.

Apr 16, 2016

Caliphate: an idea throughout history


hosted by Taylan Güngör

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What is a caliphate? Who can be caliph? What is the history of the idea? How can we interpret and use it today? In this podcast we discuss with Prof Hugh Kennedy his forthcoming book The Caliphate (Pelican Books) and the long-term historical context to the idea of caliphate. Tracing the history from the choosing of the first caliph Abu Bakr in the immediate aftermath of the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632, the Orthodox (Rashidun) caliphs (632-661), the Umayyads (661-750), the Abbasids (750-1258) and the use of the idea of caliphate by the Ottomans down to the emergence of another Abu Bakr as “caliph” of the IS in 2014.

Apr 11, 2016

Economics and Justice in the Ottoman Courts

with Boğaç Ergene

hosted by Nir Shafir

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Were Ottoman courts just? Boğaç Ergene discusses this basic question in this podcast by forging a new path beyond the earlier views of the justice system as inherently fickle and capricious—immortalized in Weber’s concept of kadijustiz—and the idealistic views of Ottoman courts as a site of equal and fair treatment for all. Drawing on the results of research for his forthcoming publication with Metin Coşgel entitled The Economics of Ottoman Justice, Ergene argues for employing the quantitative methods of “law and economics” scholars, demonstrating that entrenched power holders in early modern Ottoman society were always able to use the Ottoman court system to produce outcomes favorable to themselves. 

Apr 9, 2016

The Middle East in the Making of Modern Humanitarianism


hosted by Chris Gratien

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The First World War and the fall of the Ottoman Empire are defining moments in the political history of the modern Middle East. This narrative is usually told through the lenses of the breakup of empire, the successes and failures of national movements, and the colonial involvement of British and French Mandates in the region. In this episode, Keith Watenpaugh offers a different approach to this story through a critical look at the role of American humanitarian organizations such as Near East Relief admist the war and its aftermath, which is the subject of his new monograph entitled Bread From Stones (UC Press, 2015). In the podcast, we discuss how the massive displacement of the First World War, the Armenian genocide, and the need to care for refugees in the postwar Middle East contributed to the evolution of aid and charity organizations and the creation of what scholars see as modern humanitarian structures and ideologies. Prof. Watenpaugh describes how Americans came to see their unique humanitarian relationship with Armenians and other communities in the Middle East, and we discuss how the historical study of humanitarianism as an ideology in its own right changes not only the historiography of the region but also the way we think about present-day humanitarian crises.

Apr 7, 2016

The Middle Class in the Modern Middle East


hosted by Chris Gratien

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In comparison with the historiography of other world regions, class has often been an ignored aspect of the history of the late Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East. This has been especially true with regard to the middle class. But as our guest Keith Watenpaugh has argued in Being Modern in the Middle East, the middle class emerged as a discrete segment of late Ottoman society represented by businessmen, professionals, educators, and writers who engaged robustly with ideas concerning modernity and nationalism and contributed greatly to the making of post-Ottoman societies. In this interview, Prof. Watenpaugh reflects on his research regarding Ottoman and post-Ottoman Aleppo and the historiography of modernity and class in the Middle East roughly a decade after Being Modern's publication, and we explore possible directions for further inquiry.

Non-Muslims and the Iranian Parliament, 1906-1911


hosted by Chris Gratien

This episode is cross-listed at Ajam Media Collective

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Non-Muslim communities of the Middle East were intimately involved in the rise of constitutional politics that occurred in both the Ottoman Empire and Iran during the early 20th century. But to what extent were their interests represented in the emerging parliaments of revolutionary constitutional governments? In this episode, Saghar Sadeghian discusses her research on the representation of non-Muslim communities of Iran such as Jews, Armenians, Zoroastrians, and Baha'is during the early years of constitutionalism from 1906 to 1911.

Apr 4, 2016

Linguistic Diversity
in Mandate Palestine


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The linguistic landscape of Mandate Palestine was highly complex. Arabic and other languages of the former Ottoman Empire were joined by the wide array of tongues spoken by Jewish immigrants as well as English, the language of Palestine's new British governors. As our guest Liora Halperin demonstrates in her book Babel in Zion (Yale University Press), this linguistic diversity appeared to be an existential threat to those within the Zionist movement who hoped to see the Jewish community of Mandate Palestine united by a newly-revived Hebrew language. Yet linguistic pluralism was not seen as a threat by all, and other camps championed other agendas through language politics. In this episode, we discuss Dr. Halperin's research concerning language politics and the legacy of Mandate Palestine's period of linguistic pluralism.