UW Symposium: Jews Amidst the Embers of the Ottoman Empire

Jews Amidst the Embers of the Ottoman Empire

An international symposium
May 21-22, 2023
University of Washington

Research in the fields of Jewish, Ottoman, and Middle East history is often focused either on the late Ottoman period (variously defined), or on successor regimes (e.g. Republican Turkey, Arab and Balkan nation-states, British mandate Palestine or French mandate Syria). Moreover, scholars often divide the worlds of Ottoman Jewry into two discrete zones defined by geography, culture, or language: the Ladino-speaking Jews of the Balkans and Anatolia, and the Arabic-speaking Jews of the Eastern Mediterranean and parts of North Africa. Yet due to the parameters imposed by multiple (sub)fields, language limitations, and other factors, these various Jewish groups--who also intersect with Greek-speaking Jews, Neo-Aramaic-speaking Jews, Yiddish-speaking Jews and others--are often not conceptualized within an integrated framework.

Working across these temporal and geographic divides reveals the legacies and afterlives of the Ottoman Empire after its demise, continuity as well as change across space and across moments of historical rupture, and the mechanisms by which the Ottoman Empire took on meaning as an object of memory within and in light of later political, cultural, and social developments.



Sunday, May 21: All sessions except keynote held in Communications (CMU) 202 (Simpson Center for the Humanities)

8:00-9:00 Breakfast available for conference participants

9:00 Opening remarks

Liora Halperin, Devin Naar, Canan Bolel (organizers, UW)

9:30-11:30 Session 1

Navigating Citizenship and Bureaucracy

  • Canan Bolel (UW, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures)
  • Devi Mays (University of Michigan, Judaic Studies)
  • Joana Bürger (UW, Department of History)

Discussant: Aslı Cansunar (UW, Department of Political Science)

11:30-1:00 Lunch for participants and invited guests

1:00-3:00 Session 2

Urban Spaces in Transition

  • Oya Aktas (UW, Department of History)
  • Caroline Kahlenberg (University of Virginia)
  • Devin Naar (UW, Department of History)

Discussant: Selim Kuru (UW, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures)

3:00-4:00 Break / transition to Madrona Hall 

4:00-5:30 Keynote Address: Madrona Hall 313

6:30 Dinner for conference participants and invited guests

Monday, May 22: All sessions held in Communications (CMU) 202 (Simpson Center for the Humanities)

8:30-9:30 Breakfast for Conference participants 

9:30-11:30 Session 3: Across Communal Boundaries 

  • Busra Demirkol (UW, Near and Middle Eastern Studies)
  • Jacob Daniels (Stanford University, Taube Center for Jewish Studies)
  • Liora Halperin (UW, Department of History)

Discussant: Arbella Bet-Shlimon (UW, Department of History)

11:30-1:00 Lunch for conference participants and invited guests

1:00-3:30 Session 4: Beyond Borders

  • Julia Philips Cohen (Vanderbilt University, Jewish Studies)
  • Michelle Campos (Penn State University, History)
  • Yair Wallach (SOAS, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics)
  • Ari Forsyth (UW, Department of History)

Discussant: Resat Kasaba (UW, Jackson School of International Studies)

3:30-4:00 Break

4:00-5:30 Closing Discussion 

Dinner for Conference participants and invited guests