Richard Wittmann has joined the institute as a senior researcher in 2008. Since 2011, he has had responsibilities in the administration of the institute (Acting Director from October 2020 to October 2022; Deputy Director: 2011 to 2020; and, again, since October 2022). After studying law, Islamic and Turkish Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Freie Universität Berlin, Dr. Wittmann obtained his doctorate in 2008 in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University with a dissertation entitled “Before Qadi and Grand Vizier: Intra-Communal Dispute Resolution among Christians and Jews in the Plural Society of 17th Century Istanbul.”
The research interests of Richard Wittmann primarily concern the legal and social history of the Ottoman Empire from its origins to the founding of the Republic of Turkey.Special attention is paid to the development of Islamic law and the legal practice in the Ottoman Empire, the use of Islamic legal institutions by non-Muslims, questions of identity and conviviality in the Ottoman multiethnic state, and the inclusion of life narratives as historical sources for the study of the Ottoman Empire, especially in the 19th and early 20th century.
At the Orient-Institut Istanbul, Richard Wittmann is in charge of the research priority “The Feriköy Protestant Cemetery: Testimony to more than four centuries of Protestant presence in Turkey” and the research area “Self-Narratives as Sources for the History of the Late Ottoman Empire”. Dr. Wittmann aims through his own published works and the publications he supervises as editor to advance self-narrative research in this region, which is still at a rudimentary stage compared to other parts of the world. Here, primary sources are investigated, edited, and made the subject of scholarly treatment for the first time. With this end in mind, two newly launched publication series edited by Richard Wittmann Memoria and Individual and Empire in the Near East (co-editor: Christoph Herzog)) present unique publishing opportunities. Another important activity within the framework of this research area is the establishment and coordination of an international and interdisciplinary research network for self-narrative research on the Eastern Mediterranean in the Ottoman period.