“I think this is an incredibly important moment to think and to talk about the history of the Ottoman Empire, and that is why I am making an effort to put it out there,” says IRCPL Director Karen Barkey, in this interview for Reset-DoC.
“We are living, in the Middle East, through a transition towards new democratic societies that is coming at the same time as the rise of Islamism and new Islamic political parties, so that the transitions are happening when the people are rethinking the role of Islam within the context of democracy. They are also looking at their past and at all the traditional ways of thinking about Islam and how to use it in modern, contemporary societies. Therefore, they are looking for usable pasts. I think that the Ottoman Empire is a really interesting usable past, because — even though it was explained and historically described as an Islamic empire — it was really an empire where religion was very much balanced within a lot of dualities that made it possible for it not to be hegemonic.”
Nina zu Fürstenberg, founder and Chair of Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations Foundation, interviewed Professor Barkey during Reset-DoC’s Istanbul Seminars 2013.
More information, including the full transcript of this interview, is available at resetdoc.org.