Monday, December 14, 2015

A Post-Doc on "Confessional Dynamics" in Islamic Law

[We have the following call for a postdoctoral fellowship.]

 Postdoctoral Fellowship focusing on Confessional Dynamics in Islamic Legal Thought and Practice in the Ottoman Empire, 15th-18th centuries at Bogazici University. 

Starting date: September 01, 2016.  Application deadline: January 30, 2016.  Duration: Two years.

While the study of Islamic law in the early modern Ottoman Empire has long been an important avenue of scholarly investigation, the field has gained a new dynamism in recent years with the publication of several studies that combine the perspectives of legal, religious and more broadly, intellectual history with those of social and political history.  These studies have made it clear that both the interpretation and the practice of Islamic law in the Ottoman lands underwent some significant transformations in the early modern period.  It has also become evident that these transformations in legal thought and practice were closely related to the processes of state-building, territorialization and confession-building in the same period.  However, it still remains to be examined in what ways confessional polarization and the crystallization of confessional boundaries between Muslims, Jews and Christians of various denominations impacted and were impacted by the various developments in legal theory and practice in the Ottoman Empire between the late fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.

With the goal of building on the existing scholarship and opening it up to new questions related to confession-building, we invite proposals for a two-year postdoctoral project exploring some aspect of Islamic law in connection with the confessional politics of the early modern Ottoman Empire.  We are especially interested in studies that trace how the boundaries between belief and unbelief were drawn and redrawn, and how normative Sunni identity was defined and redefined in terms of beliefs, practices and code of conduct in the legal manuals and fetva collections as well as other relevant sources, from the late fifteenth through the early eighteenth centuries.  Topics that could be discussed under this broad rubric include but are not limited to: legal debates on canonical and non-canonical forms of worship; Sufi and popular religious beliefs and practices; non-conformist Muslim communities; religio-legal norms regarding relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in everyday life as well as in more specific issues such as inter-faith and inter-confessional marriage and commercial partnerships; changing understandings and practices of conversion to (Sunni) Islam and the status of converts, etc.  Because of the research priorities of our larger project, we would prefer studies that focus on the confessional dynamics of legal culture in Rumeli and Anatolia, where the Hanefi legal school predominated.  However, we also welcome projects that would examine intra-madhhab and inter-madhhab plurality in other parts of the empire provided that they also incorporate into their analysis relations with the Ottoman Hanefi establishment.

This two-year postdoctoral fellowship is one of the positions associated with the ERC project entitled The Fashioning of a Sunni Orthodoxy and the Entangled Histories of Confession Building in the Ottoman Empire, 15th-17th Centuries (OTTOCONFESSION) hosted by the Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Central European University and carried out in cooperation with Boğaziçi University (for more detail see The fellow will have an academic affiliation with Boğaziçi University. The project looks into the evolution of confessional discourses and concepts of religious orthodoxy in the Ottoman Empire in both community-specific and entangled, cross-communal perspectives between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, by focusing on a) the agents and strategies; b) textual genres; and c) sites of confession building.  The OTTOCONFESSION project is based on the premise that the evolution of the Ottoman discourses on Sunni orthodoxy was shaped by religio-political dynamics not only in the Muslim communities within (and contested by) the Ottoman and Safavid Empires, but also in different Christian communities (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, etc.) that transgressed the boundaries of these empires and various European polities as well.

Duties and responsibilities
The candidate is supposed to carry out the following tasks:
-undertake research on the proposed topic
-work towards publications (articles and/or monograph) based on proposed research
-present papers at the conferences organized by the project team and internationally
-contribute to project-related publications and other deliverables
-participate in consultation sessions of the research team

Application Requirements
-The applicant has a PhD degree in history, Islamic Studies, or a related field.
-The applicant has a good command of Ottoman Turkish and Arabic, and ideally at least another relevant research language (e.g., German or French, etc.)
-Written and spoken proficiency in English.

What we offer
The postdoc researcher will be enrolled on a full-time basis.  The gross annual salary is 48000 EUR.  This amount covers social security premiums (SGK). Additionally, the fellow will have access to 2000 EUR per year for travel and research costs.

How to apply

Please send your
-application cover letter
-research proposal (no more than 1500 words)
-writing or publication sample (up to 50 pages)
-curriculum vitae
-two letters of recommendation

by January 30, 2016 to

Please note that the procedure will include interviews. Candidates will be informed of the decision by early March 2016.  Informal enquiries can be directed to Dr. Derin Terzioglu at with cc: to Dr. Tijana Krstic (PI) at

About Boğaziçi University
Bogaziçi University is a leading public research university located in Istanbul, Turkey.  It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the humanities, social and natural sciences, engineering, education, and applied sciences. The University has a long record of academic excellence; is strongly committed to cutting-edge research; and promotes collaborations in research and education with other leading universities in the world.  The teaching staff consists of about 570 resident faculty members, and the student body has reached 13,500 with over 3,000 graduate students.  The language of instruction is English.  For more information, visit the University website.

About the History Department
The Department of History focuses on the history of the Middle East and the Mediterranean world from antiquity to the modern period and on the early modern and modern history of Asia and Europe. Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman and Asian history are major topics of teaching and active research. The Department offers B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Both in its undergraduate and graduate programs, the Department emphasizes world-historical and comparative perspectives, and provides specialized language courses. Teaching and research interests of the faculty members cover a wide range of areas, periods and themes, and represent diverse approaches to the study of the past. For more information, visit the Department’s website.

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