Dr. Philip Bockholt (Leipzig University, Institute of Oriental Studies, Arabic and Islamic Studies)
Inner-Islamic Transfer of Knowledge in the Context of Arabic-Persian-Ottoman Turkish Translation Processes within the Eastern Mediterranean between 1400–1750: Mirrors for Princes, Historiography, and Biographies of the Prophet

Notations in a manuscript. (c) T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Milli Saraylar İdaresi Başkanlığı, TSMK, Revan Köşkü 1513, Fol. 1a.

Philip Bockholt’s (Leipzig University) Habilitation thesis on mirrors for princes, historiographical narratives, and biographies of the Prophet seeks to analyse the translation and adaptation of works written in the languages Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish, which took place in various (border) regions of the Mamluk and Ottoman Empires between the 14th and 18th centuries. These processes constitute a transfer of knowledge within a larger eastern Mediterranean region that is to be contextualised within its specific socio-cultural background, i.e. the conditions underlying the selection, imitation, adaptation, transmission and reception of texts.

The project applies recent approaches of material philology and translation studies that pertain to the examination of textual, paratextual, codicological, and visual aspects of manuscripts as well as the background of the translators themselves. The analysis of the selected manuscript corpus kept in collections like Süleymaniye Library, Topkapı Sarayı, or Millî Kütüphane will allow insights into the socio-political fabric of both scholarly and book culture within the eastern Mediterranean region and, with respect to translation processes, shift the previous focus of research from Istanbul to parts of the Mamluk empire (until 1516/17) as well as the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire and its borderlands with Iran. As a result, it will be possible to illuminate from a transregional perspective how actors coming from different cultural milieus adapted norms and representations to objects and texts in a particular context.

Jilian Ma (Koç University, Istanbul)
Ottoman/Turkish-China intellectual engagements from 1908 to 1939

Two photos of Chinese people from an Ottoman textbook, Resimli Haritalı Coğrafya-ı Umumi (Üçüncü Sene) (Istanbul: İbrahim Hilmi Askeri Kütüphanesi, 1911), 125.

This dissertation project attempts to trace Ottoman/Turkish – Chinese intellectual engagements in the early twentieth century, when both countries were searching for solutions to similar crises of internal decay and external encroachment. During this period, the empires fell and nation-states rose with the Young Turk Revolution (1908-1909), the Turkish War of Independence (1919- 1923) and socio-economic reforms in Turkey and the Xinhai Revolution (1911), the Nationalist Revolution (1924-1927), and the Agrarian Revolutionary War (1927-1937) in China. This period also witnessed the Ottoman attempts to appoint an ambassador to Beijing (1908, 1909) and the signing of the Sino-Turkish Friendship Pact in 1934. The paths Turkey and China were forced into in the contemporary era started to take shape in this period, and the thoughts and ideas produced still resonate today.  Based on analyzing both Ottoman and Chinese archival documents, articles in newspapers, several main politicians and intellectuals’ travel accounts and memoirs, it will explore how these two distant societies knew each other, how they imaged and perceived each other in relation to political problems of nation/state-building and religious connections, how the interaction shaped their knowledge of each other, and some third parties’ impacts on these two countries’ encounters. By shifting the perspective away from the Western “sick man of Europe” and “sick man of Asia” discourse to how these two countries actually perceived each other and interacted, it endeavors to shed light on two major non-western powers’ intellectual engagement and mutual responses to the challenges they faced.

Jilian Ma has been a PhD student in the Department of History at Koç University in Istanbul since 2019 after having studied in the MSc program in Middle East Studies at Middle East Technical University, Ankara. She holds an MA degree in Chinese Studies from the National University of Singapore and a BA degree in Chinese Language and Literature from the Bejing Language and Culture University. Ms Ma is currently a visiting scholar in the Orient-Institut Istanbul’s research field “Self-Narratives as Sources for the History of the Late Ottoman Empire.”