Project Overview

by Chris Gratien
updated 11 December 2016

When Emrah Safa Gürkan and I started recording podcasts on a handheld recorder with fellow graduate students at Georgetown in spring 2011, we did not have a clear mission beyond creating some kind of website dedicated to Ottoman and Middle East studies that would offer an alternative way of engaging in informed discussion about the past. After realizing the level of demand for such a forum, we upgraded our equipment and started looking beyond our social circles for interview guests that could provide stimulating conversations of interest to students of Ottoman history and a broader listening public. In April 2013, we released our 100th episode, and in September 2015, we released our 200th. In the process, we have recorded in-person interviews with scholars from over 20 countries and a range of disciplines.

Our Mission

Ottoman History Podcast is dedicated to offering a multivocal and inclusive discussion of history in the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere that showcases the numerous perspectives on the past within our field of study. Ottoman History Podcast is not a self-contained course or overview; it is a continued conversation that follows a circuitous path through the countless points of interest marked by research and scholars today. Our goal is to make discussion about the past lively and accessible to wide audiences.

An important aspect of our mission is a commitment to different forms of diversity. This means of course providing a venue for researchers from many different places and backgrounds that reflect the makeup of our scholarly community. While many established and accomplished scholars appear on the program, we also continue to interview emerging scholars and graduate students about their ongoing research to provide a more versatile and dynamic representation of the historiographical dialogue. Finally, we seek to foster diversity through an expanded definition of our subject. Ottoman History Podcast is not a program dedicated solely to the Ottoman dynasty or empire. It encompasses discussions of a wide range of themes, including social history, gender, media and material culture, environment, law, identity, and more. We include episodes on the pre-Ottoman and post-Ottoman Mediterranean and Middle East and welcome scholars of other regions whose research might be of interest to our audience.

Our Content

Ottoman History Podcast is an absolutely 100% non-commercial venture. In fact, while we often enjoy indirect forms of support from academic institutions affiliated with our various guests and contributors, we receive no direct form of revenue or funding and have to this point never needed to solicit donations in order to maintain our operations. Ottoman History Podcast is independent of any institutional affiliation. We maintain this non-commercial and independent stance not because we have no costs and not because we do not like working with universities and academic institutions. Rather, we believe that this structure is the best way of facilitating the participation of the maximum number of contributors across the widest variety of institutions while keeping our content as free and accessible as possible. We view our project as complementary to the mission of the various universities, academic associations, journals, and academic publishers that our contributors interact with, and we eagerly collaborate with other web sites that share a similar vision.

All of our episodes are available for streaming and download at no cost to the listener and with no advertising. Our SoundCloud content is released under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. This means our content may be shared freely and be modified for the purposes of creating mixes, summaries, or any sort of transformative purpose that builds on our content. This also means that when sharing or remixing, users should provide adequate attribution and share their content under the same license. Most importantly, it means that our podcasts may only be shared or used for non-commercial purposes. Our guests and contributors offer their time and expertise at no cost because they expect that our content will be freely and publicly available, and third party content such as images and music are employed under the terms of transformative fair use for educational purposes. Commercial use of our content is in direct violation of our non-commercial policy and the rights of our contributors.

What all this means is that Ottoman History Podcast is free for classroom use, and we are happy for our episodes to be included on undergraduate and graduate syllabi. If you use our content in the classroom, please shoot us an email to tell us in what way you have used our content and how students responded to the discussion.

When using the podcasts, we appreciate that you cite our work. However, when employing our episodes in academic publication, please consult the accompanying bibliographies for the purposes of full citation. Many of our episodes feature guests discussing a particular monograph or article that they have published, and where possible, we prefer that you cite that publication rather than our episode, unless you are citing an aspect that is discussed in our episode but not in the publication itself. 

Our Format

None of us started out with a real background and radio, and if you listen to the program, you'll see that there is still some room for improvement. However, we make our best effort to ensure a high quality listening experience. All of our interviews are recorded face to face to ensure the conversation sounds as genuine and human as possible and to provide a good sound quality by avoiding remote recording via Skype or other methods. We use cardioid mics in order to minimize background noise and our audio is edited carefully for sound and flow. Currently, we use standardized sets of equipment optimized for a balance of portability, sound quality, and cost-effectiveness. If you would like to join our recording team, please note that recordings via conventional computer mics, smartphones, or other such devices will not meet our current recording standards.

While some of our episodes take an alternative or more creative approach, most of our podcasts take the form of an interview by one or two hosts sitting down with a guest to discuss a particular publication or piece of research. The interview is a conversation that encourages the guest to elaborate on particular points, provide additional context for their research, and personally present the topic in order to explain its relevance and reasons for possible interests. Our hosts bring their own interpretation and questions to the conversation, which is organic, unscripted, and framed by only a very minimal flow structure. Our goal is not to critique the guest's work but to highlight its possible contribution and importance.

Our Audience

It goes without saying that without our audience, the Ottoman History Project would not deserve to exist. Since the very beginning, we have made efforts to engage our audience via Facebook and other social media, sharing our content and various materials of interest and gauging the responses of our fans and listeners. Although our primary language is English, roughly half of our blog, podcast, and Facebook audience resides in Turkey. Thus, we have made efforts to include regular episodes in Turkish and always consider the interests of Turkish audiences.

We are very attuned to our audience's feedback and support in the form of comments in the blog, posts on SoundCloud, Facebook, and Twitter, and reviews on iTunes or other internet media. Do not hesitate to contact us with critiques, requests, or suggestions. Listener feedback has driven the development of our platform thus far, and we strive to continually accommodate the interests and concerns of our various audiences in the US, Turkey, and around the world. Thanks for tuning in.

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