Enise Şeyda Kapusuz (MA)

Project title: A Long History of Migration: Ottoman Muslim Women’s Activities in Vienna during and after WWI (1914-1919)

Fellowship period: 2024

Enise Şeyda Kapusuz is a Ph.D. candidate at the History Department of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. She is a feminist historian working on the history of photography, the women’s movement, and the modernization process in the Late Ottoman Empire. Her dissertation, "Image and Imaginary of the New Ottoman Muslim Woman: Modernisation, Photography, and Women in Late Ottoman Istanbul (1913-1924),” is at the final stage. During her Ph.D. process, she has been involved in various initiatives at the EUI. She was a coordinator of the Queer and Feminist Studies Working Group between the 2019-2022 academic years, and she was a researchers’ representative at the Diversity Policy Committee between the 2021-2023 academic years. She is a member of the Decolonizing Initiative at the EUI. 

This project pursues the history of the Ottoman Muslim women who moved to Vienna during and after WWI. Even though it is hard to estimate the number of Muslim women who migrated/traveled from Istanbul to Vienna, the current research shows that there were different reasons for their travel; some of those women moved to study, some moved with their husbands, and some just visited Vienna for a limited time. Regardless of the reason for their journey, they all left some footprints in Vienna. There are various historical materials such as travel documents, residence records, student registries, police records, newspapers, and photographs will be analyzed as the main primary source material for this research. Writing the history of everyday lives of these multicultured women will broaden the frame of the gender and women’s history of the Ottoman and the Austria-Hungarian Empires that is limited to the imperial agenda towards Muslim women who lived in both Empires. In order to accomplish this goal, my research will focus on the mobility of the actors, materials, information, and culture with the assistance of the literature on public history, microhistory, and history of education.

Dr. Naira Poghosyan

Project title: Joking on Problems, Laughing at “Others”: Case study of Armeno-Turkish satirical magazine “Zvarcahos”

Fellowship period: March 2024

Naira Poghosyan received her Ph.D. in Turkic Studies from Yerevan State University, Republic of Armenia. Her dissertation focused on the reflection of social and cultural problems of “Gastarbeiters” (Turkish migrants in Germany) in Turkish literature. Currently, Naira Poghosyan holds the Associate Professor position, pursuing academic and research work in the Department of Turkic Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Yerevan State University. N. Poghosyan’s research focuses on the history of modern Turkish literature, Turkish historical novels, and the Armenian subject in Turkish literature. She is a former visiting scholar at the Fridrich Schiller University of Jena (DAAD Programme "Ostpartnerschaften"). During her research, she received support from the Higher Education and Science Committee of Armenia and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. 

Naira Poghosyan’s research under the Andreas Tietze Memorial Fellowship aims to shed light on the ironical and satirical representation of both domestic and foreign political problems in the Ottoman Empire through the lens of the satirical magazine "Zvarcahos."  The magazine, mainly published in Armenian-scripted Turkish, provides a unique perspective on the sociopolitical landscape of the time. 

Zvarcahos was for many decades “ignored,” “forgotten,” or even sentenced to “unbelongingness” by both Armenian and Turkish scholars, as was the whole Armeno-Turkish literary legacy. Although some significant contributions to the field of Armeno-Turkish have been made during the last decades, many untouched lacunae are still waiting for their time. Satire magazines are among them. 

Satirical journals have been published in large European centers such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna since the first half of the nineteenth century. Researchers dealing with humor magazines in the Ottoman Empire in their introductions most often refer to Teodor Kasap’s “Diyojen” (Diogenes) as the pioneering satire journal  “Diyojen,” being published in Constantinople from 1870 initially in Armenian/Armeno-Turkish and later Ottoman Turkish, Greek and French, could be considered a significant milestone for the development of the Ottoman satire. However, over fifteen years before that, in 1855, the Armeno-Turkish journal “Zvarcahos” (Զուարճախօս) was initiated in the Ottoman capital and for one year was regularly published every Tuesday.

Naira Poghosyan will analyze the main topics covered in “Zvarcaos.” Additionally, there will be a specific focus on how the European Countries and the Russian Empire were portrayed in the magazine. The publishers’ attitudes towards different groups inside the Empire (e.g. Muslims, Catholic and Apostolic Armenians, Greeks) will be examined. Benefitting from the methodological approaches of imagology, Naira Poghosyan will outline the boundaries of “otherness” represented in “Zvarcahos”.

Alika Zangieva (MA)

Project Title: Circassians in the Habsburg–Ottoman Sphere

Fellowship period: June-August 2024

Alika Zangieva is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. She is currently a CASA Fellow studying Arabic and working with Circassian diaspora groups in Jordan.

Alika’s research seeks to examine the transformation of Ottoman paramilitary structures through the lens of ethnicity. She traces the influx of Circassian migrants and other Muslim minority populations into the highest positions of newly emerging clandestine institutions of the Ottoman Empire, such as the Zaptiye Müşiriyeti, the Yıldız İstihbarat Teşkilatı, and the Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa. Her work aims to contribute to research on nineteenth-century Ottoman military reforms through a deeper understanding of the Ottoman Empire’s “Circassian Element” as well as the cultural heritage of “indigenous warrior” populations of the Ottoman frontiers, known sometimes as “levend,” “çeteci,” or “başibazuk” forces. 

With the Andreas Tietze Memorial Fellowship, Alika will examine how these militia brigands traversed the Habsburg–Ottoman borderlands, especially during the 1877–1878 Russo–Turkish War. While current historiography marks 1878 as a moment of Circassian (or “Muslim”) migration into the Anatolian heartland, loyalties were hardly settled among ethnic militia groups. Her research examines the spillage, diffusion, and cultural excess of war. What do we make of the provincial aristocracies of Cossack, Tatar, Albanian, and Circassian workforce on the frontiers––serving Ottomans one day, the Habsburgs the next, and eventually dying for the Romanovs? Beyond shifting military loyalties, the project aims to uncover the birth of new cultural frontiers, political ecologies, and financial networks mediating newly defined border(land)s. 

At the heart of Vienna today stands a statue of “uncle Circassian,” admiring the bravery of a Circassian Janissary caught by Austrian troops after digging a hole into the city. Why does a migrant minority population symbolize the Turkish traces of Europe? How did a Circassian “mountain warrior” come to define the Ottoman soldier in the European imaginary? Alika pursues these questions to uncover the roles of diaspora, indigeneity, and cultural heritage in modern Ottoman military reforms and strategic planning.

Halit Serkan Simen (MA)

Project title: The Ruling Elite Divided: The Making of Grand Vizier Koca Sinan Pasha (d. 1596) in the Faction-Ridden Ottoman Court

Fellowship period: September-October 2024

After completing his MA at Central European University (Budapest) in 2020, Serkan Simen pursued doctoral studies at the European University Institute (Florence). Researching his dissertation titled “The Ruling Elite Divided: The Making of Grand Vizier Koca Sinan Pasha (d. 1596) in the Faction-Ridden Ottoman Court”, under the supervision of Prof. Giancarlo Casale, Simen aims to bring a reassessment of the Ottoman political configuration in the late sixteenth century by focusing on the career trajectory and ruling elite features of five-times grand vizier Koca Sinan Pasha.

The primary goal of his study is to write a political biography of a pasha that presents innovative critical inquiries, relying heavily on archival sources to reassess the changing Ottoman politics of the late sixteenth century and the evolving character of the Ottoman ruling elite during and in later centuries. Certain studies indicate that the Ottoman imperial court saw heightened political rivalry and factionalism among the sultan’s ruling elite in the late sixteenth century. As part of this intra-elite competition, multiple high-ranking viziers were frequently dismissed from their positions and, at times, even executed due to their opponents’ mechanizations in the power politics of the time. As numerous contemporary sources have attested, factional court politics played a significant role in reshaping the political structure of the Ottoman Empire. Accordingly, members of the ruling elite employed diverse tactics to maintain their power and influence, often at the expense of each other. Sinan Pasha’s transitional grand vizierate was a blueprint for his successors during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His efficient relationship with the sultan, thanks to his skillful use of the petition (telhîs) mechanism, and management of complex state affairs showcased his success in the role, leading to his model being replicated in the following decades. Since competition and violence have become the new norm in daily politics, the strategies of the pasha to expand his household and patronage network, and primarily, his political maneuvers to eliminate other viziers at the top echelons of the Ottoman administration have been passed down to the succeeding grand viziers. Thus, tracking his political maneuvers in the court informs us about the transformative changes observed in the central administrative institutions of the Ottoman Empire during the period in question, as well as providing insight into the behavioral patterns of the seventeenth-century ruling elite. During his stay in Vienna, Simen intends to focus on the Austrian archives and various catalogs concerning Sinan Pasha’s diplomatic and intelligence network, as well as his activities during the Long-Turkish War Campaign (1593 – 1606). 

In addition to Ottoman political history from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, Simen's interests include Mediterranean history, Ottoman-Italian relations, and contemporary Turkish history, particularly the popular movements of the 1970s and subsequent decades.