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.
More information is available here.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.