The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the Forum for Turkish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem plan a one-day international workshop to be held in Jerusalem, October 28, 2018.
The Ottoman Empire was the last to rule both the Levant and the Balkans. To this day, the Ottomans’ physical and cultural influence - from urban planning to culinary traditions - is enormous. Yet, in many cases, this heritage has been erased, suppressed, or appropriated by the modern nation-states that succeeded the Ottoman Empire. Although Ottomans were already banished from almost all their territories a hundred years ago, local sovereigns still target them - as part of the ongoing process of nation building - as foreign occupiers. Moreover, the identification of Ottoman heritage with local Muslim minorities, in some non־Muslim states, is another motivation for not protecting this heritage. Finally, the use of neo־Ottoman symbolism in contemporary Turkey arouses in other states in the region, at least to a certain extent, antagonism toward the Ottoman heritage. Simultaneously, powerful economic and ideological forces are motivating stakeholders throughout the region to invest money and effort in the conservation of Ottoman tangible heritage, particularly architecture. One obvious force is the rise of foreign tourism and the consequent need to provide tourist attractions. In that respect, Ottoman edifices and architectural complexes serve as available assets; their preservation is further motivated by the opportunity to obtain the prestigious hallmarks of ICOMOS, UNESCO, or the Aga Khan Foundation. In addition, both ethnic and religious components of identity converge with the need to preserve physical manifestations of the Ottoman presence.
And in the same vein, states may choose to preserve a “weakened” version of Ottoman heritage־mostly in the shape of semi־destroyed fortresses and prisons - to reaffirm the national narrative of emancipation. The various uses and misuses of the tangible remains of the Ottoman Empire call for a comparative approach to both the theoretical analysis of Ottoman heritage and the practical interest of conservators
seeking effective strategies for coping with the local, regional, and international politics of heritage. We welcome papers that address either of these aspects.
Proposals (title and abstract) should be submitted to Tsameret Levy־Daphny (TsameretL@vanleer.org.il) by July 10, 2018. Scholars participating in the workshop will be requested to send a draft of their papers (maximum length: 2,500 words) by September 30, 2018. These drafts should be read before the workshop by all participants.