Sub Specie Aeternitatis: Concepts of Time in Ottoman Historiography

Open to the Public
Nador u. 13
Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 5:30pm
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Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Ottoman dynastic chronicling emerges in the late 15th and early 16th century, and has taken center stage in the study of Ottoman historiography, focusing on ideologies of Islamic expansionism and imperial legitimacy. In this lecture I will argue that this dynastic and imperial historical writing is forming by reconfiguring existing concepts of time and history: chronological, epic, and salvific time are harnessed to explore the shared “space of experience”, from which the “horizon of expectations” (R. Koselleck) are drawn. But can the tie between the history of the past and the history of the future be maintained under the rapid transformations of the time?

Gottfried Hagen is Associate Professor of Turkish Studies. He teaches a broad range of courses on Turkish, Ottoman, and Islamicate cultural history, as well as Ottoman language. In his research, he asks how Ottoman culture constructed the globe and the universe, space, self, and others. Hence, he is interested in representations of space such as geographical writing, travelogues, and maps, as well as the narrative representation of the past in chronicles, hagiographies, and other literary texts. These questions hinge on the role of religion, specifically Islam, as a means to understand the order of the cosmos and to attribute meaning to the human experience. His publications include his book Ein osmanischer Geograph bei der Arbeit. Entstehung und Gedankenwelt von Kātib Çelebis Ǧihānnnümā (2003), numerous journal articles, and book chapters in volumes such as Evliya Çelebi-An Ottoman Mentality, by Robert Dankoff (2004), Legitimizing the Order: The Ottoman Rhetoric of State Power, ed. by Maurus Reinkowski and Hakan Karateke (2005), and Exploring Other Worlds: New Studies on the Prophet Muhammad's Ascension (Mi‘raj) ed. by Christiane Gruber and Frederic Colby (2009). Currently, he is working on a study of Ottoman narratives of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Other aspects of his work include translations, myths, as well as Western travel and Orientalism.


BA/MA Islamic Studies, Semitic Languages, Medieval and Modern History, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1989

PhD Turcology, Free University, Berlin, Germany, 1996