Secular Dhimmis of the Republic

with Lerna Ekmekçioğlu

hosted by Chris Gratien, Nir Shafir, and Eda Çakmakçı

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After facing the destruction of their community during the First World War, former Ottoman Armenians set about rebuilding in Turkey first during a period of relative optimism under the Allied occupation of Istanbul and later as non-Muslim citizens of new Turkish nation-state. In her new work entitled Recovering Armenia, Lerna Ekmekçioğlu explores the changes and continuities in the identity of Istanbul's Armenian community during this transformative period. In this interview, we explore Armenian collective politics, feminist movements, and expressions of loyalty through the Armenian press and through the writings of women in particular, and we examine the issue of Armenian belonging in Turkey through the lens of "secular dimmitude" among non-Muslim citizens of a predominantly Muslim but secular republic.

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Lerna Ekmekçioğlu is McMillan-Stewart Associated Professor of History at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She works on Armenian and Ottoman/Turkish history, including women’s history. 
Chris Gratien holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University's Department of History. His research focuses on the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region from the 1850s until the 1950s.
Nir Shafir is a historian of the Middle East whose research examines the intersections of knowledge production, religious practice, and material culture in the early modern world (1400-1800). He curates Ottoman History Podcast’s series on history of science in addition to being one of the co-founders of, a website that explores the archives and libraries of the Islamic world. He is currently an advanced doctoral candidate in the History Department at UCLA.
Eda Çakmakçı is a PhD student in the Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies Program at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the politics of nature in Turkey.  


Episode No. 256
Release Date: 7 August 2016
Recording Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Sound excerpts: Urakh Ler - Mari PozapalianEgil Daglar Ustunden Asam - Viktoriya HanimHarmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal EfendiMurat Kenarinda - Agyazar Efendi
Images and bibliography courtesy of Lerna Ekmekçioğlu


Cover of Nor Huys, 26 October 1935 (Courtesy of Lerna Ekmekçioğlu)
Portrait of Hayganuş Mark by Ara Güler (Courtesy of Lerna Ekmekçioğlu)
Recovering Armenia
Lerna Ekmekçioğlu
Stanford University Press, 2015

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