BY DENİZ YILDIRIM (POLS/PhD)
On Thursday, October 23, Prof. Reşat Kasaba gave a talk at Bilkent University as part of the Seminar Series on Polity, Society and the World. His presentation was entitled “Diversities in a Changing World: The Ottoman Empire and Turkey.”
Director of the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Prof. Kasaba is a specialist in the area of state–society relations, migration, ethnicity, economic history and nationalism in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey.
In his talk, Prof. Kasaba questioned the meaning of diversity in the Ottoman Empire and in modern Turkey. To introduce the subject, he described the United States’ approach to diversity and how it differs from the Turkish experience. One of his main points was that the Turkish Republic’s goal of a homogeneous and uniform society directly affected the way it approached diversity.
Prof. Kasaba also discussed the way in which the Ottoman Empire addressed the various ethnic and religious groups under its control. He stated that its tolerance toward different groups demonstrated a type of pragmatism on the part of the Ottomans, and noted that a certain degree of harmony and engagement existed in the Empire.
The lecture was followed by a lively and informative question and answer session involving staff and students alike.