What did it mean to pursue science in the Ottoman Empire? Who practiced it and why? And how should scholars approach the topic today? This series of podcasts introduces new research that challenges the traditional story of science in the Ottoman Empire. Setting aside long-held assumptions of the passive reception of European science or of a golden age stymied by religious obscurantism, these podcasts explore how artisans, scholars, and others made sense of the natural world. Some examine topics and actors traditionally regarded as outside the bounds of science, such as alchemy, while others reveal connections to broader worlds of intellectual exchange. Yet others situate seemingly cerebral sciences like astronomy or medicine in the everyday contexts of religion and charity. Together they reveal a new and vibrant intellectual world that has been too often overlooked.
Science in Early Modern Istanbul
Episode 456 with Harun Küçük hosted by Sam Dolbee and Zoe Griffith What did science look like in early modern Istanbul? In this episode, Harun Küçük discusses his new book, Science without Leisure: Practical Naturalism in Istanbul, 1660-1732 (University of Pittsburgh Press), which tackles this question in a bold fashion. Tracing the impact of late seventeenth and early eighteenth transformations of the Ottoman economy, Küçük argues that the material conditions of scholars greatly deteriorated in this period. The changes did not, however, stop people from wanting to know about the world, but rather reoriented their work toward more practical applications of science. Küçük contrasts these conditions with those in some parts of northwestern Europe, where a more leisurely version of science--often theoretically inclined--emerged. He also grapples with the parallels between educational institutions in the early modern period and today. « Click for More »
Plague in the Ottoman World
Episode 455 featuring Nükhet Varlık, Yaron Ayalon, Orhan Pamuk, Lori Jones, Valentina Pugliano, and Edna Bonhomme narrated by Chris Gratien and Maryam Patton with contributions by Nir Shafir, Sam Dolbee, Tunç Şen, and Andreas Guidi The plague is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis, which lives in fleas that in turn live on rodents. Coronavirus is not the plague. Nonetheless, we can find many parallels between the current pandemic and the experience of plague for people who lived centuries ago. This special episode of Ottoman History Podcast brings together lessons from our past episodes on plague and disease in the early modern Mediterranean. Our guests offer state of the art perspectives on the history of plague in the Ottoman Empire, and many of their observations may also be useful for thinking about epidemics in the present day. « Click for More »
The Arab Conquest of Space
Episode 431 with Jörg Matthias Determannhosted by Taylan Güngör Download the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud When Sultan bin Salman left Earth on the shuttle Discovery in 1985, he became the first Arab, first Muslim, and first member of a royal family in space. Twenty-five years later, the discovery of a planet 500 light years away by the Qatar Exoplanet Survey – subsequently named ‘Qatar-1b’ – was evidence of the cutting-edge space science projects taking place across the Middle East. Discussing his recent book, Space Science and the Arab World, Jörg Matthias Determann shows that the conquest of space became associated with national prestige, security, economic growth, and the idea of an ‘Arab renaissance’ more generally. Equally important to this success were international collaborations: to benefit from American and Soviet expertise and technology, Arab scientists and officials had to commit to global governance of space and the common interests of humanity. « Click for More »
Status Quo Utopias in the UAE
Episode 405 with Gökçe Günelhosted by Matthew GhazarianDownload the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud About half-hour's drive from Abu Dhabi sits Masdar City, a clean technology and renewable energy business cluster and research institute. Founded in 2006, Masdar imagines a sustainable and business-savvy future where technology, ecology, and humanity co-exist and thrive, even in the oil-rich deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. In this episode we speak with Gökçe Günel, who spent over a year at Masdar examining the anthropology of renewable energy and green technology development. We talk about the challenges of pioneering greener versions of transportation, currency, and energy, as well as how experts imagine and produce these projects. How can developing technologies help us mitigate or even avert ecological disaster? And how does faith in their powers define whether and how we can transform our current patterns of consumption and energy use? « Click for More »
Forging Islamic Science
Episode 400 with Nir Shafirhosted by Suzie Ferguson Download the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud In this episode, Nir Shafir talks about the problem of "fake minatures" of Islamic science: small paintings that look old, but are actually contemporary productions. As these images circulate in museums, on book covers, and on the internet, they tell us more about what we want "Islamic science" to be than what it actually was. That, Nir tells us, is a lost opportunity. « Click for More »
Medicine and Muslim Modernity in China
Episode 365 with John Chenhosted by Shireen Hamza and Nir Shafir Download the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud In the early twentieth century, Muslim modernizers all over the world were making new claims about Islam, and the Muslims of China were no exception. In this episode, we discuss the relationship of Southeast Asia to the emergence of a modern Chinese Islam. In a period often characterized in terms of non-Arab Muslims' rediscovery of the Middle East, John Chen shows how connections between Chinese Muslims (Hui) and diverse groups across the Indian Ocean also shaped the new Chinese Islam. The processes often considered to be Arabization were in fact multiregional exchanges. Delving especially into the histories of Islamic medicine in China, John illustrates how Chinese Muslim leaders, imams, and historians took to print, radio, and even to sea routes, to articulate new visions of identity in an emerging nation-state and a changing Islamic world. « Click for More »
Please speak up. I listened to a podcast on a Bluetooth boom box and couldn't hear the speaker 50% of the time because dude was whispering into the mic. The content itself was fantastic, but I missed a lot of it because the speaker wasn't speaking loud enough into the mic.
I enjoyed the episodes I listened to so far. The hosts and the guests are to be commended for making the discussions both entertaining and informative. What I thought refreshing is the non judgmental tone in which issues related to the Middle East are discussed, a rarity these days! I find the title a bit confusing as some of the content has little or nothing to do either with the Ottomans or with science!