Manuscript Culture in the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey

Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika

Main collaborator: Universität Hamburg, SFB 950 “Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe”

Duration: Since 2011

This research area is being developed in close cooperation with the SFB 950 of the Universität Hamburg, which R. Motika has headed up as project manager since 2011. Following the DFG’s approval, the SFB was extended for another four years, along with a new project from R. Motika, in May 2015. Since research approaches dealing primarily with the materiality of manuscript cultures, including from comparative perspective, are largely unknown in Turkey, Turkish researchers will be familiarized with this new line of research. In addition, a German-Turkish international network will be set up which also works closely with “The Islamic Manuscript Association” (TIMA), which mostly deals with Arabic manuscripts. Of primary importance will be the close working relationship with the SFB 950, which was formally established with a cooperation agreement in June 2016. In February 2016, a cosponsored winter academy was also jointly organized and hosted. Furthermore, joint scholarships were already announced, including a three-year fellowship starting in 2016 at the Graduiertenkolleg of the SFB 950 at the Universität Hamburg for a Turkish doctoral student supervised by R. Motika.

Reading, Memorizing, and Notating: Manuscripts in the Alevi Villages of Anatolia (subproject of SFB 950 Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe, Universität Hamburg)

Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika and Janina Karolewski, MA

Duration: 2015–2019

Cooperation partner: Orient-Institut Istanbul

The subproject of SFB 950 (2015–2019), which is carried out in close cooperation with the OII, is focused on the manuscript culture in the Alevi villages of Anatolia, which had low levels of literacy through the mid-20th century. The use of the manuscripts in learning and teaching mainly religious content is examined on the basis of fourteen private manuscript collections. The history, composition, and context of the collections are investigated in order to then study the use of manuscripts in cultural practices. For instance, it is asked who wrote or used which manuscripts, how the different collections contributed to the preservation and transmission of knowledge, whether use of the manuscripts for reading, memorization, and notation influenced their content or appearance, and if so, in what ways.

Centre for the Study of Munuscript Cultures – Projects

Buyruk Manuscripts in Alevism: Collected Manuscripts as Repositories and Transmitters of Religious Knowledge between the Written Form and Orality (subproject of SFB 950 Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe, Universität Hamburg)

Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika and Janina Karolewski, MA

Duration: 2011 ̶ 2015

Cooperation partner: Orient-Institut Istanbul

The subproject of SFB 950 Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe (1st phase, Fall 2011–Fall 2015) at the Universität Hamburg examined the nature and function of around 30 volumes of collected Buyruk manuscripts (multiple-text manuscripts; late 18th century–early 20th c.), which preserve(d) and transmit(ted) religious knowledge in the predominantly oral contexts of Alevi communities. A substantive, manuscriptological, linguistic, paleographic, and material-based analysis identifies the characteristics of this “autonomous” manuscript culture—in particular with regard to the organization of knowledge, handed down methods and techniques and text compilation, and also to be able to trace the changes of the latter vis-à-vis the socio-cultural context.

Centre for the Study of Munuscript Cultures – Projects

Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae

Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Ralf Martin Jäger, Dr. habil. Martin Greve and Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika

Duration: October 2015–September 2022/September 2027

Main collaborator: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Sponsored by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

This research project is located in the field musicological research, but also overlaps in many ways with the research area “Manuscript Cultures.”

Music in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey

Editing Post-Byzantine Notations

Supervised by: Dr. Kyriakos Kalaitzidis and Dr. habil. Martin Greve

Duration: Since October 2016

Sponsored by: Alexander Onassis Foundation

This research project is located in the field musicological research, but also overlaps in many ways with the research area “Manuscript Cultures.”

The Religious History of Anatolia

Winter Academy 2016: Manuscript Cultures in Exchange, Coexistence and Isolation

Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika and Janina Karolewski, MA

Event date: 22–26 Feb. 2016

Main collaborator: SFB 950 Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe, Universität Hamburg

From 22–26 Feb. 2016, the Orient-Institut Istanbul organized together with the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) of the Universität Hamburg and in cooperation with the Islamic Manuscript Association (TIMA) in Istanbul the Winter Academy “Manuscript Cultures in Exchange, Coexistence, and Isolation.”

The Winter Academy aimed to put a spotlight on the research being done at the CSMC in Turkey and to establish initial contacts between Hamburg and Turkish researchers. In addition, the Winter Academy allowed the Hamburg scholars to become acquainted with the rich archives and libraries of Istanbul. In the morning, the participants of the Winter Academy visited various manuscript-relevant institutions in Istanbul, including the Archaeological Museum with its abundant collection of cuneiform tablets, the department of book restoration and archiving of the Committee of the Manuscript Society of Turkey, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the Ottoman central archive of the General Directorate of State Archives of the Prime Ministry of the Republic of Turkey, the manuscript collection of Istanbul University, and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.

Four afternoon workshops were held on the following topics: (1) A Forgotten Galaxy Still Persisting? Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe, (2) Historical Manuscripts under Scrutiny: Computer Based Tools and Material Analysis, (3) Manuscripts and Politics of Memory, and (4) “Manuscript Cultures in Interaction.” The accompanying program of the Winter Academy included two evening lectures at the Orient-Institut Istanbul. Michael Friedrich, spokesperson for the CSMC, presented new approaches and problems in current manuscript research and Ralf Martin Jäger (Universität Münster) introduced the research project under his direction, “Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae” on Near Eastern music manuscripts.

Workshop: Manuscript Cultures of the Ottoman Empire

Supervised by: Aslıhan Gürbüzel, MA (fellow), Dr. Richard Wittmann, and Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika

Event date: 6–7 June 2012

Main collaborator: History Department at the University of California & SFB 950 Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe, Universität Hamburg

The international workshop was conducted in cooperation with the History Department at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (SFB 950) at the Universität Hamburg. All ten presentations dealt with a wide array of topics ranging from book and library culture among the Ottomans to writing culture and individual manuscripts. The involvement of primarily young academics from the US, Turkey, and Germany was a first step toward establishing a network for exploring Ottoman manuscript culture. The high quality of the contributions, which were mostly based on current doctoral research, and the well-informed discussions point in particular to the growing interest in manuscript research. It is also worth noting that the event took place largely due to the initiative of a fellow of the OII and doctoral student at Harvard University. With the Institute’s help, after her to stay in Istanbul, she was also able to go to Hamburg on a grant from the SFB Manuscript Cultures to gain insights into comparative manuscript research.