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The Ottoman Subject among Other (National) Subjects: Greco-Turkish Contact Zones and Larger Implications

Friday, November 11, 2011
12:00 AM
435 South State St, Tisch Hall Room 2015 D, Comp Lit Library Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

Asli Igsiz, University of Arizona

This talk will discuss how the 1923 Greco-Turkish compulsory religious minority exchange has been instrumental in engaging the previously "distant" Ottoman past and identifications, which had been less accessible and, to a certain extent, unfamiliar in Turkey through the policies of govermentality. In this light, revisiting the population exchange has been a means to question nation-state homogenization policies in contemporary Turkey and to address the multi-layered post-Ottoman identities that span across the Mediterranean. Drawing from the theoretical frameworks by Walter Benjamin, Peter Burke, and Michel Espagne, these dynamics will be explored through such examples as the French nobility Comte de Bonneval: A colorful persona of the 18th century, Vonneval was known to such figures as Casanova and Voltaire. he had escaped Europe and came into the Ottoman Empire, to then "convert" to Islam and became an Ottoman Pasha and modernized the Ottoman army. His story will be paired with those who claim to be his descendent in Turkey - as during the 1923 Greco-Turkish population exchange they were sent to Turkey by Greece, because they were now Muslims. Through this brief example, along with others, the talk will address larger implications of the "ottoman" identities in contemporary Turkey an revisit the Greco-Turkish contact zones in that context. Sponsored by: Modern Greek Program, Mediterranean Topographies, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Comparative Literature