Languages, Cultures and Societies in the Turkic World
CETOBaC’s “Languages, cultures and societies in the Turkish domain” research team brings together people who share their ideas and experience around the following four research axes:
Axis 1. The arts (literature, photography, cinema, collections)
1. Istanbul under Allied occupation (1918‑1923)
T. Muhidine and F. Hitzel aim to contextualize the history of the Allied occupation of Istanbul at the end of the First World War. Through a couple of monographs, they gather the accounts of French, English and German writers and discuss the literary, cultural and social history of this period (including the Turkish War of Independence). They also analyze the complex relationships between propaganda, literature and art (particularly painting and photography).
2. Photography and cinema
Several members of the team work on the origins of photography and cinema. C. Pinguet is studying the first photographers of Constantinople (1840‑1923) —foreign travellers (painters, erudite amateurs, writers) or local photographers (mainly Armenians and Greeks). She recently published two books on the topic —Istanbul, photographes et sultansand Felice Beato (1832‑1909), photographe de guerre(CNRS Éd., respectively 2011 and 2014) and is currently preparing a study of the painter-reporter Constantin Guys.
C. Drieu is the author of Fictions nationales : cinéma, histoire et politique en Ouzbékistan (1924‑1937) (Karthala, “Meydan” series, 2013). She is also the editor of Écrans d’Orient : propagande, innovation et résistance dans les cinémas de Turquie, d’Iran et d’Asie centrale (Karthala, “Terres et gens d’Islam” series, 2015). She is now carrying out research into Central Asian films during the Second World War.
E. Zerman studies how family photos are collected, carefully conserved, put in albums or frames and hung on walls. The interior of a house is filled with all sorts of images and as such over time becomes the kind of place which Foucault called a true “heterotopia,” “a place of all times that is itself outside of time,” like a museum. Her dissertation project works within this framework and is based on visual, material and textual sources for a study of the way in which people “conserved” memory and recalled a past which they believed acceptable while being attached to an ideal future and a symbolic form of politics.
3. The image of Turks in France
N. Gürsel is conducting research into how Turks are portrayed in French literature with particular focus on the perception of Turkey and Turks in the imaginations of French writers like Molière, Racine and Voltaire or Pierre Loti, George Sand, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Catherine Clément and Louis Gardel among others.
F. Hitzel and T. Muhidine are working on a book about Turkish writers and artists in Paris during the 19th‑20th centuries.
Axis 2. Language, folklore and music
1. Turkic epic poems and traditional genres
R. Dor is conducting research into riddles and puzzles in the Turkic tradition, the political role played by epic poems in Turkic societies and the relations between the Turkic world and Tibet in the 4th‑5th centuries. He published an important article on the Turkic origins of the Bön religion in the Revue d’études tibétaines(no 30, Oct. 2014) and is also the author of the first translation into French of the divinatory manuscript Irq Bitig (Espaces et signes, 2014). Finally he has also drafted a portrait of the Kirghiz chief Rahman Koul, ultime khan du Toit du Monde (éd. Michel de Maule, 2015).
2. History of mystic language in Central Asia
A. Papas is writing a book about the history of mystic language focusing on three aspects —marginal people and their discourse in the Timurid Herat; anti-chivalric literature in the 17th- and 18th-century East Turkestan; Sufi slang in the 19th- and 20th-century Uzbekistan.
3. Music and culture
Since 2011, J. Cler, N. Sigalas and N. Élias have been writing a monograph on the brotherhood village of Tekke Köyü concentrating on the following themes —written/oral, particularly from Ottoman to modern Turkish, through the comparison of what headstones and inscriptions teach with respect to oral history and collective memory; the poetic tradition and status of musicians.
A. Zevaco is studying the modes of representation of music and musicians and how these contextually define contemporary musical practices and aesthetics in Tajikistan.
Axis 3. The construction of knowledge
1. History of European Turkology and Orientalism in the 18th‑20th centuries
Several researchers are working on the emergence of institutional Orientalism and Turkology in Europe, based on both university institutions and international academic networks under the influence of national contexts. This is the framework for the collective book edited by E. Szurek and G. Işıkşel entitled Turcs et Français : une history culturelle, 1860‑1960 (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2014) while M. Bossaert is working on the constitution of an Italian Turkology.
Also within this framework, a working group has been set up to study the history of European Turkology and Orientalism with the participation of N. Clayer, F. Hitzel and E. Szurek in particular. This group will notably work on the private archives of René Basset (1855‑1924) and Jean Deny (1879‑1963).
2. Philosophy in the Ottoman Empire and in Turkey
D. Sarmis is completing a dissertation on the reception of Bergson in Turkey and with F. Georgeon she will be launching a collective project on philosophy in the Ottoman Empire and in Turkey. The specific nature of the constitution of philosophy as a discipline in the intellectual and academic spheres is linked to its enunciation with regard to the major issues of Ottoman reform and Republican consolidation. It therefore requires existing studies to be re-centred while detaching analysis from work on psychoanalysis. Study of philosophy in the Ottoman Empire and in Republican Turkey as a disciplinary, institutional, editorial and intellectual phenomenon is a valuable prism through which three major periods in the history of Turkey are revealed, albeit on different levels —the end of the Ottoman Empire with its own rhythms, the transition toward the Republic and the period of Republican consolidation.
Axis 4. Material culture
In the framework of a collective project launched jointly with the late Hélène Desmet-Grégoire and Sylvie Gangloff about drinks in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey under the working title Boire à la turque : boissons, convivialités et identités en Turquie, F. Georgeon has gathered a great deal of documentation (articles, newspapers, archives, memoires, documents from the period, images, etc.) on alcoholic drinks from the Ottoman Empire to Kemalist Turkey. A book is planned on this subject. Other nearly finished projects include the Dictionnaire de l’Empire Ottoman and Le mois le plus long : Ramadans à Istanbul de l’Empire Ottoman à nos jours.
Main collective work programmes
- Participation in the Dictionnaire de l’Empire Ottoman (Fayard, forthcoming 2015; Turkish translation planned to be published by İletişim).
- The members of the team serve on the editorial boards of two world famous journals —Turcica, and the Central Eurasian Reader— and take part in the steering committee of the “Meydan” book series (Karthala)
The members and associate members of the team contribute to the promotion of Turkish and Ottoman culture and language through their teachings:
- seminars at EHESS by N. Clayer and C. Drieu.
- a monthly seminar at IISMM by F. Hitzel and T. Muhidine entitled “Art, culture and et patrimoine dans le monde turc et ottoman.”
These teachings contribute to enhancing the national and international reputation of CETOBaC, as a number of former doctoral students —many of them still associated with the team— have been pursuing a career in higher education and research after their time at CETOBaC: e.g., S. Gangloff at the Fondation de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, Ö. Samancı at Sabancı University (Istanbul), or Ö. Türesay at Galatasaray University (Istanbul).
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