History of Science, Ottoman or Otherwise

curated by Nir Shafir

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What did it mean to pursue science in the Ottoman Empire? Who practiced it and why? And how should scholars approach the topic today? This series of podcasts introduces new research that challenges the traditional story of science in the Ottoman Empire. Setting aside long-held assumptions of the passive reception of European science or of a golden age stymied by religious obscurantism, these podcasts explore how artisans, scholars, and others made sense of the natural world. Some examine topics and actors traditionally regarded as outside the bounds of science, such as alchemy, while others reveal connections to broader worlds of intellectual exchange. Yet others situate seemingly cerebral sciences like astronomy or medicine in the everyday contexts of religion and charity. Together they reveal a new and vibrant intellectual world that has been too often overlooked.

Currently our series contains 26 podcast episodes featuring 35 contributors available for play or download through our podcast feeds. Let us know what you'd like to hear next!

click the section headings below

by Nir Shafir

A new wind has come to the study of the history of science in the Middle East as scholars reorient a field that has for so long clustered around two poles. At one end was the ingenuity of a medieval Islamic golden age and the other was the quick adaptation of Western science in the nineteenth century. The many centuries in-between, which coincidentally covered almost all of Ottoman history, were labeled an age of decline, so much so that I had been repeatedly told that there simply was no science in the Ottoman Empire. (click for more)

Scientific Encounters
History of Science in a Global Perspective

Science, Knowledge, and Society
Transformations in the Ottoman Cosmos

Mapping and Global Imagination
Cartography and the Early Modern World

Cultures of the Book
Technologies and Networks of the Written Word

Bodies and Brains
Medical Knowledge in the Middle East

People and Machines
Technology and Culture in the Middle East



Unknown said…
once I saw your website, it overwhelmed me with happiness and pleasure. The revival of the Ottoman history is a MUST especially in the current politically volatile era oriented towards the exploitation of interest only.

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