LECTURE: Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Profess or History and Professor of African-American Studies, Harvard University
Tacky's Revolt and the Coromantee Archipelago A New Cartography of Slave Revolt"
Thursday, January 30th, 4.15 PM, L01 Carson Hall
Harris German-Dartmouth Distinguished Visiting Professor, Spring 2007
Suraiya Faroqhi, Professor Emerita of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and a leading authority on Ottoman history, taught a course on “The Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean: The Sultans and Their European Neighbors, 1400-1774” for the History Department in Spring 2007. In this class, Professor Faroqhi focused on political as well as commercial and cultural interactions between Ottomans and Venetians. A highlight of the course was a field trip she and the students took to New York to view the exhibition “Venice and the Orient” at the Metropolitan Museum. As background to the luxury crafts shown at the Met, they also paid visits to the Asia Society to see a Sassanid (pre-Islamic Persian dynasty) exhibit and to the Cloisters, where they looked at Venetian glass and Spanish faience that carried Middle Eastern traditions well into the sixteenth century.
During her stay at Dartmouth, Professor Faroqhi worked on two book projects: a monograph on Ottoman crafts and craftspeople and a volume co-edited with Gilles Veinstein of Collège de France on merchants active in Ottoman territory. She also gave invited lectures at a number of universities and visited several museums in the United States and Canada with exhibitions relevant to her research interests, which focus on the interface between written documents and artifacts. In addition, she joined Professor Crossley in leading a seminar for Department faculty comparing the early modern empires of the Ottomans and the Qing.
Shortly before her departure from Dartmouth, Professor Faroqhi sat for an interview with the editor of this newsletter. Born in Berlin, Professor Faroqhi attended grade school in Germany, India, and Indonesia before her father, a medical doctor originally from India, returned to Germany. After graduating from high school in Bonn, she began studying European medieval and early modern history at Hamburg University. A turning point in her life came in 1962-63, when she took the opportunity to go to Istanbul University on a fellowship as an exchange student. Subsequently she became a student of Ömer Lüfti Barkan, one of the founding fathers of Ottoman history and an editor of Annales. When she first read Fernand Braudel at Barkan’s insistence, she “had the feeling that’s the sort of thing I wanted to do.” She wrote her doctoral thesis at Hamburg on a set of documents that a late 16th-century vizier submitted to his sultan discussing Ottoman politics at the time.
After a detour in the United States, including two years at Indiana University, where she studied Central Asian languages and earned a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, Professor Faroqhi took a position as an instructor of English and then of general history at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. While teaching at that institution, she perfected her Turkish language ability. She also discovered that urban and regional planning students needed a background in Ottoman urban history; “for the first time,” she remarked, “I saw that people outside the field were interested in what Ottoman historians had to offer.”
One of her former teachers was director of the main archive in Istanbul. At the time it was difficult to gain access to the archive, but the teacher arranged for her to do research there—“one of the greatest gifts” she received. At the time only two foreigners had such permission. Having an “irregular” career had its advantages, Professor Faroqhi noted, for once she was well established in Ankara she could go to the archive in Istanbul as often as she liked.
In 1984 Cambridge published a reworked version of her second thesis, for which she received the highest German academic qualification of habilitation, as Towns and Townsmen of Ottoman Anatolia: Trade, Crafts, and Food Production in an Urban Setting, 1520-1650. Meanwhile, the Technical University had built one of the best mainframe computers in the Middle East. Professor Faroqhi secured a grant to computerize data on seventeenth-century houses and their owners from sales documents. While on a fellowship at Harvard in 1983-84, she continued to work on this project, which resulted in her third book, Men of Modest Substance: House Owners and House Property in Seventeenth Century Ankara and Kayseri (Cambridge, 1987).
In 1987 Professor Faroqhi returned to her home country, thanks to a program aimed at stemming the German brain drain by creating professorships specifically for those already abroad, and began teaching in Munich. At that time she received an offer from a local publisher “to do something in German”: the result was a book on how the Ottomans ran the Hajj caravan to Mecca and back, subsequently published in English translation as Pilgrims and Sultans (I. B. Tauris, 1994). Another Munich publisher suggested that she write something that would appeal to a broader audience. This proposal led to her book on the kinds of access Ottoman townsmen had to cultural offerings of the early modern period, a work that later appeared in English translation as Subjects of the Sultans (I. B. Tauris, 2000).
Professor Faroqhi also produced a book of reflections on the history and state of the discipline, Approaching Ottoman History: An Introduction to the Sources (Cambridge, 1999), and a brief introduction to Ottoman history for German high school and undergraduate students, published in 2000. While on a fellowship in Berlin in 2001-02, she wrote most of The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It (I. B. Tauris, 2004). More recently she has edited volumes 3 and 4 of the Cambridge History of Turkey.
Having retired from Ludwig Maximilian University as of April 1, 2007, she hoped to return to Istanbul with her husband, whom she met in Turkey, and teach at a private university there for a few years.
Of her Dartmouth experience, Professor Faroqhi observed that students here are motivated and similar to German students, although students at Ludwig Maximilian, a national institution and the largest university in Germany, have a greater range of academic ability. She thought Turkish students tend to be less shy and more outgoing; however, when she would squeeze in brief teaching stints in Turkey during the Munich spring break, she would have only seniors or graduate students, “so maybe that’s why they weren’t shy.” The students in her Dartmouth course eventually warmed up and actively engaged in discussions, thanks in part to the camaraderie they had developed on the field trip to New York.
Last Updated: 10/15/08