Neither Muslim Nor Christian

with Zeynep Türkyılmaz
hosted by Chris Gratien and Vedica Kant

Stories of insincere conversion under duress and secret Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire give the impression that many Christians lived in hiding from a Muslim majority. However, as Zeynep Türkyılmaz argues in this podcast, the phenomenon of Crypto-Christianity is really more complex, as diversity and heterogeneity among the Ottoman Empire's rural communities gave rise to "in-between" groups that did not conform to categories of identity being formulated in the center. In this episode, we focus on the Trabzon region in order to understand how local communities sought to define their participation in a rapidly transforming society and economy of the nineteenth century.

Zeynep Türkyılmaz is an Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College. (see faculty page)
Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Georgetown University. (see
Vedica Kant is a graduate of Oxford University's Middle Eastern Studies program.

Episode No. 104
Release Date: 29 April 2013
Location: Şişhane, Istanbul
Editing and Production: Chris Gratien
Musical excerpt: Andonis Katanos
Bibliography and images courtesy of Zeynep Türkyılmaz

This episode is part of our Historicized Identities series


Andreades, Georgios [Yorgos]. The Cryptochristians : Klostoi : Those Who Returned ; Tenesur : Those Who Have Changed. Translated by Theodota Nantsou. Thessaloniki: Kuriakidis Bros., 1995.

Baer, Marc David. Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Bryer, Anthony.   "The Crypto-Christians of the Pontos and Consul William Gifford Palgrave of Trebizond." Deltio Kentrou Mikraasiatikon Spoudon, no. 4 (1983): 13-68.

Deringil, Selim. ""There Is No Compulsion in Religion": On Conversion and Apostasy in the Late Ottoman Empire: 1839-1856." Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, no. 3 (2000): 547-575.

Krstić, Tijana. Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2011.

Reinkowski, Maurus. "Hidden Believers, Hidden Apostates: The Phenomenon of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Christians in the Middle East." In Converting Cultures : Religion, Ideology, and Transformations of Modernity, ed. Dennis C. Washburn and A. Kevin Reinhart. Leiden; Boston; Biggleswade: Brill ; Extenza Turpin [distributor], 2007.


Late Ottoman Postcard of Kurum, near Trabzon (Source: Hakan Akcaoglu)
Signiature of Küpcüoğlu, one of the leaders of the Istavri movement (from Ottoman archives)


Manuk Suren said…
This is a very interesting podcast. Thank you, I wish the best for your research.
This story may help you to further understand islamization of the Black Sea region.

Unfortunately, it doesn't have a source.

Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.