The Turkologist Ahmet Caferoğlu (1899-1975) with his students at the University of Istanbul, ca. 1930 (Nazan Ölçer Collection).

Intellectual Transfer Processes

Supervised by: Dr. Zaur Gasimov

Duration: 2013–2019

Within the context of the entangled history of Western and Eastern Europe, on the one hand, and the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, on the other, this research area examines the intellectual transfer processes and entangled history from the 19th century to the present.

Russia Encounters Europe on the Bosporus. European-Russian-Turkish Intellectual Entanglements in the 20th century

Supervised by: Dr. Zaur Gasimov

Duration: 2013–2019

The project aims to investigate the entangled intellectual history of the Europeans, Russians, and Turks as a histoire croisée in the Istanbul region in the 20th century. Above all, it treats subjects that, depending on the field and national and linguistic context, have been largely dealt with separately in international research (e.g. the Russian or Russian Federated, European and Turkish history of ideas). The project thus centers on the journalistic and scholarly work of exiled intellectuals and academics like Ali Bey Hüseyinzade (1864–1941), Cafer Seydahmet Kırımer (1889–1960), and Ahmet Caferoğlu (1899–1970) and their interaction with European, Russian, and Turkish intellectuals. In addition to the approaches of entangled history/histoire croisée, both the methodology of transferts culturels of Michel Espangne and the approach of Pierre Bourdieu concerning the circulation of internationale des idées are utilized.

Between Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia: The History of Azerbaijan

Supervised by: Dr. Zaur Gasimov

Duration: 2013–2017

The new edition of the “Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan” is dedicated to an encyclopedic account of the history, politics, and society of Azerbaijan in a transcultural perspective. The focus is on key concepts and lemmas of the historic landscape in the eastern Caucasus at the intersection of the entangled history of Russia, the later Soviet Union, and the Middle East. Z. Gasimov concentrates here on research into the Azerbaijani history of ideas. The volume was published in 2017:
Gasimov, Zaur. Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan. New Edition. Lanham 2017.

Inscribing Humanism through Translation: On the Debates Surrounding Translation from Classical Languages and the Translation Bureau during the 1930s and 1940s

Supervised by: Till Luge, MA

Duration: 2015–2017

The idea of humanism was debated in Turkey from the mid-1930s, not as a part of Western culture, but of a universal and potentially Turkish culture. Among the key figures in this debate were students of German émigré professors, especially from literary and classic humanistic subjects. These pioneers of a reformist humanism shared universal humanistic ideals and the practice of translation, both of which were fused in a vision of the reformative power of translation. The project examines debates concerning the idea of a humanistic revolution through translating classical works, which were mainly conducted in literature, translation, and review journals. Due to the role of German émigré professors as teachers of this young generation of Turkish intellectuals, the Turkish discussions about a revolutionary humanism will also be analyzed in the context of European and especially German discourses on humanism, neo-humanism, and the “Third Humanism.”

From knowledge transfer to new scientific perspectives: The transformation of orientalist and philological research at the Ankara Faculty of Languages, History, and Geography between 1935 and 1948

Responsible: Till Luge, M. A.

Duration: 2013–2015

Scholarly work on exiled German scientists in Turkey is largely concerned with their contribution to Turkish research and their personal and familial struggles. This research project, by contrast, focuses on the contributions of these researchers to their respective disciplines. The aim is to find out how the exiles’ perspectives changed during their stay in Turkey. The example of the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography in Ankara illustrates the extent to which a number of factors influenced the work of the German exiles: the new interdisciplinary cooperation with other exiles, but also with Turkish colleagues; the poverty of source materials and research opportunities in previously explored fields; discrimination and persecution in Germany and having refugee status in Turkey; as well as the personal and academic proximity to humanist and socialist Turkish academics. The thesis of this project is that the various marginalizations increased the interest in dealing with topics on the fringes or outside of one’s own disciplines, opening up new perspectives within orientalist and philological studies.

Gasimov, Zaur. “Modernisierer und Mittler im polnisch-türkischen intellektuellen Nexus.” Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 65, 2016. 241–265.

—-. “Aserbaidschan: Exportware Führerkult. Aliyev-Verehrung als Außenpolitik.” Osteuropa. 65/7–9, 2015. 599–612.

—-. “Aserbaidschan: Exportware Führerkult. Der Personenkult um Heydar Aliyev.” Osteuropa. 7–10, 2015. 599–612.

—-. “Becoming Azerbaijani Through Language: On the Impact of Cəlil Məmmədquluzadə’s Anamın Kitabı.” Daniela Kuzmanovic, Elisabeth Özdalga (ed.). Novel and Nation in the Muslim World. Literary Contributions and National Identities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2015. 48–64.

—-, Lemke Duque, Carl Antonius. “Introduction Outlines of a Logical Constitutive Model of Cultural Transfer.” Transfer and Translation: Comparativ—Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung. 2, 2015. 7–15.

—-, Aksakal, Hasan. “Not Quite In, But Via Europe. Reading Lenin in Turkey.” Transfer and Translation: Comparativ—Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung, 2, 2015. 45–58.

—-, Lemke Duque, Carl Antonius (eds.). Transfer and Translation: Comparativ—Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung, 2, 2015.

—-. “History-Writing and History-Making in Azerbaijan. Some Reflections on the Past Two Decades of Independence.” Birgit Schlyter (ed.). Historiography and Nation-Building Among Turkic Populations. Vol. 5 Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul 2014. 69–89.

—-. “Rechtsideologie und Nationalismus als Beobachtung und Transfer. Der Fall Roman Dmowskis im Polen der Jahrhundertwende.” Historische Mitteilungen der Ranke-Gesellschaft. 26, 2014. 71–85.

—-. “Spengler im heutigen Russland. For New Eurasian reception of Cultural Morphology.” Gilbert Merlio, Daniel Meyer (eds.). Spengler ohne Ende. Ein Rezeptionsphänomen im internationalen Kontext. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang 2014. 243–256.

—-. “Vom Panslavismus über den Panturkismus zum Eurasismus. Die russisch-türkische Ideenzirkulation und Verflechtung der Ordnungsvorstellungen im 20. Jahrhundert.” Stefan Troebst, Agnieszka Gasior, Lars Karl (eds.). Post-Panslavismus. Slavizität, Slavische Idee und Antislavismus im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert. Göttingen: Wallenstein Verlag, 2014. 448–474.

—-. “Bolshevik Post-Colonialism, Eurasian Perspective and Entangled Intellectuals. Russian Debates on Spengler in the Interwar Period.” Zaur Gasimov, Carl Anthony Lemke Duque (eds.). Oswald Spengler als europäisches Phänomen. Der Transfer der Kultur- und Geschichtsmorphologie im Europa der Zwischenkriegszeit (19191939). (Publications of the Institute of European History, Supplement 99). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013. 67–82.

—-, Lemke Duque, Carl Antonius (eds.). Oswald Spengler als europäisches Phänomen. Der Transfer der Kultur- und Geschichtsmorphologie im Europa der Zwischenkriegszeit (19191939). (Publications of the Institute for European History in Mainz, Supplement 99). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.

International Conference: Mimesis in Transl/national Turn

Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika, Dr. Yigit Topkaya & Prof. Dr. Özlem Öğüt

Event date: 17-18 Dec. 2015

Main collaborator: Boğaziçi University

Beginning with the developmental context and reception history of Erich Auerbach’s magnum opus Mimesis. The Representation of Reality in Western literature, the conference mainly pursued the question of the influence of literature and literary translation as “imitative art.” The interdisciplinary discussion centered on the analysis of cultural transformation processes.

Lecture series at the Orient-Institut Istanbul: Borderlands, Encounters, and Actors. Turkish-Russian Relations and Entangled History Revisited

Supervised by: Dr. Zaur Gasimov

Event date: Spring 2014

The primary topic of the lecture series “Borderlands, Encounters, and Actors: Turkish-Russian Entangled History Revisited” was the entangled Russian-Turkish history from the late Ottoman or late Tsarist era until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Lectures from various disciplines presented different facets of topics pertaining to the development of Turkish Slavic and Russian studies, the translation history of Russian literature into Turkish, the comparative analysis of the Russian and Turkish conceptions of statehood, and the current situation on the Crimean Peninsula. Also involved in the series of lectures were Turkish scholars from Istanbul and Ankara working on Russian-Turkish and Ottoman-Slavic relations.


Workshop: Six Hundred Years of Polish-Ottoman Entanglements in Istanbul: Identities and Intellectual Transfers

Supervised by: Dr. Zaur Gasimov, Dr. Richard Wittmann, Paulina Dominik (Oxford University), Katarzyna Papierz (IFEA) and Michal Polczynski (Georgetown University)

Event date: 14 Mar. 2014

The aim of this international and interdisciplinary workshop was to analyze the entangled Polish-Ottoman Turkish histories, including their intellectual dimensions. The focus of the workshop was the six hundred years of interaction between the two imperial border areas.

The presentations were dedicated, among others things, to the migration between the Polish-Lithuanian Union and the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, the influence of Polish immigrants and political exiles on the developments in the Ottoman Empire, the emergence of French-speaking Polish women’s literature in Istanbul in the second half of the 19th century, and the activity of the exiled Crimean Tatar politician and intellectual Cafer Seydahmet in Poland, the Crimea, and Turkey during the interwar period.

The Hamburg Diplomat and Orientalist Andreas David Mordtmann (1811–1879) as Contemporary Witness of Late Ottoman History

Supervised by: Tobias Völker, MA (Universität Hamburg)

Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 1 May ̶ 31 Oct. 2016)

The dissertation deals with the life and work of the Hamburg Orientalist Andreas David Mordtmann (1811–1879), who came to Istanbul in 1846, where he was first active as an Ottoman civil servant and then served as a Hanseatic envoy from 1860. Mordtmann used his stay to pursue his studies. He toured Anatolia, collected coins and lead seals, deciphered inscriptions, and translated manuscripts. He also worked as a political commentator and journalist. His writings are characterized by a unique transcultural perspective. He was involved in the German community in Istanbul as well as various Ottoman circles. As an Ottoman civil servant, he also actively participated in the reforms, on which he reported to a wide German audience. The dissertation will discuss in detail the resulting ambivalence and the special vantage point from which Mordtmann described the political and social upheavals in the Ottoman Empire during the period of the Tanzimat reforms (1839–1876). At the same time, Mordtmann is to be given his due as a researcher, who made fundamental contributions to the discipline of Ottoman Studies through his local studies.