Jun 27, 2017

The Sounds of Islamic Berlin

Episode 321

hosted by Nir Shafir and Huma Gupta

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What is the aural possibility of Islamic life in European cities today? This special episode begins with a ten-minute segment from an audio composition crafted by our guest, musicologist Peter McMurray, from recent field recordings and ethnographies he conducted among various Turkish communities in Berlin. As the discussion progresses we weave in and out of two discussions. First, we look at the means by which Turkish migrants from the Alevi, Shi’i, and Sufi communities use the different private and public spaces of the city as a stage for their religiosity. We add to this a second discussion of how ethnography, aesthetics, and the aural intersect in scholarship today.

Jun 24, 2017

Ottoman New York

Episode 320


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The distance between the shores of the Ottoman Empire and New York City may be great, but, as this episode suggests, a great many connections exist between these places, too. This episode explores both the everyday lives of those hailing from the Ottoman domains over several centuries in the Big Apple, as well as the perceptions New Yorkers and Americans more generally had of the Ottoman Empire. Through visits to sites across the island of Manhattan, we shed light on the long and largely forgotten shared history of the Ottoman Empire and New York City, and we find it in unlikely places – such as a modest walk-up apartment on the Upper East Side – as well as in the shadow of New York landmarks like 1 World Trade Center and the Stonewall Inn.

Jun 22, 2017

Inclusion and Exclusion in Islamic Modernist Thought

Episode 319


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The rise of Islamic modernist movements from the 19th century onward brought two potentially contradictory processes. On the one hand, Muslim thinkers began to imagine an increasingly global Muslim community unified by identity that might transcend many of the communal and political divisions of the day. On the other hand, in seeking to delineate the parameters of modern Islam, such thinkers were impelled to account for the great diversity and heterogeneity within Islamic beliefs and practices. In this episode, we speak to Teena Purohit about her ongoing research on this very subject. Specifically, we discuss the case of Muhammad Iqbal, one of most important Muslim scholars in British South Asia, and his treatment of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Ahmadiyya movement. Through Iqbal's writing on the Ahmadis and other movements of the period, we examine both the religious and political implications of modernist debates about inclusion and orthodoxy in Islam.

Jun 21, 2017

Indian Ocean Connections

Episode 318


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Long before European contact with the Americas forged transoceanic networks and connections in the Atlantic and Pacific, the Indian Ocean served as a maritime space that connected the many states, economies, and communities of its vast basin stretching from East Africa to Southeast Asia. In this multi-part episode, we follow this maritime space into the modern period, exploring the endurance of Indian Ocean connections. We discuss how commerce and politics fueled the expansion of the Ottoman diplomatic presence in South Asia, and we consider how lingering connections between East Africa and the Indian Ocean world forged by dhow traffic reveal both continuities and transformations in the history of economy, mobility, and empire along the coasts today.

Jun 19, 2017

Beekeeping in Late Ottoman Palestine

Episode 317


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The history of late Ottoman Palestine and the changes in settlement, agriculture, economy and politics that occurred there remain a subject of great interest for historians of the Middle East. In this episode, our guest Tamar Novick introduces a new approach to that history using the lens of ecology. We explore changes in late Ottoman Palestine through enivoronment and human-animal relations and in particular, the transformation of beekeeping practices that arrived with Europeans during the late 19th century. We learn about how the introduction of moveable hives transformed the relationship between beekeepers, bees, and the landscape, and we consider how European settlers saw in the bees of the Holy Land a unique animal stock that could be developed and possibly exported elsewhere while simultaneously casting the bee and apiculture in Ottoman Palestine as a site of technological intervention.

Jun 15, 2017

Late Ottoman Translations of Ibn Khaldun

Episode 316


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Among the many important medieval texts written in Arabic, few have received more attention from scholars in Europe than The Muqaddimah, an introduction to history by the 14th-century North African writer Ibn Khaldun. In this episode, we explore another of arena for reception of Ibn Khaldun, the Ottoman Empire, with our guest Kenan Tekin. We examine Ottoman translations of Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah, especially that of the 19th-century statesman and scholar Ahmet Cevdet. In our discussion of Cevdet's translation of and commentary on Ibn Khaldun's work, we explore the intellectual engagement of Ottoman Tanzimat-era thinkers with ideas from the past centuries of Islamicate scholarship and consider Cevdet's late Ottoman work as an early example of writing about the history of science.