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Spring interdisciplinary series

Spring interdisciplinary series “Reflections on Whiteness, Blackness, and Race in the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey”

An interdisciplinary series featuring discussions with:

  • Baki Tezcan, UC Davis: teaches history at the University of California, Davis, and is the author of The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World, and about forty articles on Islam, modern Turkish historiography, and Ottoman history and historiography.
  • Ezgi Güner, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: received her PhD in Anthropology with a minor in African Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work focuses on the articulation of race and religion with global capitalism in the context of Turkey’s contemporary relations with Africa south of the Sahara. She conducted a multisited ethnography in Turkey, Tanzania, Senegal, Gambia and Benin. Güner was a visiting fellow in the Anthropology Department at Harvard University in 2018 and an Ernst Mach fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in 2019-2020.
  • Ezgi Çakmak, University of Pennsylvania: is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, in the department of Africana Studies. She received her BA from Boğaziçi University, Sociology Department. Before the doctoral studies, she worked with NGOs in the field of international migration and conducted fieldwork with African migrants in Istanbul. Her research interests include the African slavery in the late Ottoman empire, identity formation and racialization processes in early Turkish Republic as well as diaspora studies.


The Emasculated Guardians of Power: Black Eunuchs and the Interplay Between Gender and Race at the Ottoman Imperial Court - March 12th @ 12pm

Speaker: Baki Tezcan, UC Davis
In the light of three books that were either written with a view to secure the patronage of the Chief Black Eunuch of the Ottoman court, or to critique him, between the early seventeenth and mid-eighteenth centuries, Dr. Tezcan will discuss Ottoman literary representations of Africans and how these representations intersect with the heavily gendered environment of the court.

Scramble for African Hearts: Muslim Whiteness, Islamic Civility, and Interracial Intimacy in AKP's Turkey - March 31st @ 12pm

Speaker: Ezgi Güner, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Drawing on a multi-sited ethnography in Turkey, Tanzania, Senegal, Gambia, and Benin, Dr. Güner shows how whiteness, historically associated with Western modernity and state secularism in Turkey, is redefined as the marker of Islamic civility in and through these transnational relations. Analysis of the construction of Muslim whiteness contributes to debates on intersectionality of race and religion in the context of the Middle East, Africa, and their transnational connections.

The Roots of the Silence: Encounters with Blackness in Early Turkish Republic - May 7 @ 12 pm 

Speaker: Ezgi Çakmak, University of Pennsylvania
Departing from the recently sparked interest in the discussions of race in Turkey following the anti-racism protests in the US, Ezgi Çakmak will discuss the echoes of these protests in relation to the silence over the intersecting histories of ‘race’, slavery and blackness in Turkey.