“Disciplining the Past? Sites of Memory and Forgetting in Former Ottoman Lands”

Telling Times: Memories of Culture, Cultures of Memory - Lecture Series 2016

  • Date: Oct 26, 2016
  • Time: 10:30 - 12:00
  • Speaker: Jeremy F. Walton (MPI-MMG)
  • Jeremy F. Walton is the leader of the Max Planck Research Group, “Empires of Memory: The Cultural Politics of Historicity in Former Habsburg and Ottoman Cities,” at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany, a position that he began in March 2016. Since graduating from the University of Chicago with Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2009, Dr. Walton has had the good fortune to pursue a variety of teaching and research positions. From 2009 to 2012, he was an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in New York University’s Religious Studies Program; from 2012 to 2013, he was a Jamal Daniel Levant Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS); from 2013 to 2015, he was a member of the CETREN Transregional Research Network at Georg August University of Göttingen; and, from 2015 to 2016, he was a research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies of South Eastern Europe at the University of Rijeka.
  • Location: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 12, Göttingen
  • Room: Conference Room
“Disciplining the Past? Sites of Memory and Forgetting in Former Ottoman Lands”

For more details please contact cziesielsky(at)mmg.mpg.de.

Dr. Walton’s first major research project was an ethnographic study of the relationship among Muslim civil society organizations, state institutions, and secularism in contemporary Turkey. A monograph based on this research, Muslim Civil Society and the Politics of Religious Freedom in Turkey, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. Dr. Walton has published in a wide variety of forums, including journals such as American Ethnologist, Sociology of Islam, and The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology. Additionally, Dr. Walton was a co-editor of the volume Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency (University of Chicago Press), and has book chapters in Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe?, The Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies, and Everywhere Taksim: Sowing the Seeds for a New Turkey at Gezi. As the group leader for “Empires of Memory,” he guides an interdisciplinary team of researchers in a multi-sited project on post-imperial memory and forgetting in a variety of former Habsburg and Ottoman cities, including Vienna, Istanbul, Budapest, Sarajevo, Trieste, Thessaloniki, Zagreb, and Belgrade.

In this presentation, I draw on Pierre Nora’s concept of “sites of memory” to explore the material textures and political effects of post-Ottoman legacies and Neo-Ottoman ideologies in three locations: Miniatürk, a theme park in Istanbul that features scale replicas of many prominent Ottoman structures; Thessaloniki’s New Mosque, a former place of worship for the syncretic religious community of the dönme; and the Tomb of Gül Baba, a 16th Century Sufi dervish and saint, in Budapest. My exposition moves in two directions. On the one hand, I emphasize how sites of memory frequently serve to bolster dominant, politicized discourses of Neo-Ottomanism. On the other hand, I trace how sites of renascent Ottoman memory—especially those outside of Turkey—destabilize and contradict the premises of Neo-Ottomanism in unanticipated ways. Over the course of my presentation, I develop the concept of “disciplined historicity” as a method for approaching sites of memory that integrates both historical knowledge and appreciation for the material and aesthetic qualities of the spaces in question.


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