The Middle East Insitute - Columbia University



The Middle East Institute
Columbia University
Phone: 212-854-2584
Fax: 212-854-1413
606 West 122 Street
Knox Hall - Third Floor
New York, New York 10027
Mail Code 9640


Turkish Studies have always been an important component of Columbia’s Middle East Studies program. From the 1960s to the 1980s Columbia boasted four tenured professors of Turkish studies, Tibor Halasi Kun, Kathleen Burrill, Karl-Heinz Menges and Edward Allworth. Except for a brief hiatus (ending in 2004), Turkish has been taught at Columbia from the beginning through the advanced level. In addition to modern Turkish, Columbia also offers courses in Ottoman Turkish. Enrollments in Turkish language have steadily increased over the past 3 years. In 2006-07 30 students were enrolled in Turkish language courses. These courses are taught by Prof. Etem Erol at the Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures Department (MEALAC).

Non-language offerings have also expanded in the past few years. A list of courses is attached below. It is worth noting that Columbia is one of the few programs that offers a full year of training in Ottoman print and paleography. Current Columbia Turkish Studies faculty is comprised of two Ottomanists (Nader Sohrabi in MEALAC and Christine Philliou in History). Other faculty such as Mark Mazower (History), an expert on the Balkans, and Karen Barkey (Sociology), an expert on the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires, also work on the region. David Cuthell (SIPA), teaches a course on Modern Turkey every spring semester. In addition, the Middle East Institute has also sponsored courses on Turkish literature by visiting faculty. In fall 2006 Columbia was fortunate to host visiting fellow Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. He co-taught a new course entitled “Secularism and Diversity” offered through the Committee on Global Thought and is expected to continue teaching here in upcoming fall semesters for the foreseeable future. In addition to coursework, the Middle East Institute also hosts brown bag lectures and special events on Turkey on a regular basis. In 2006-07 we sponsored 9 lectures, including a talk by Karen Barkey on Ottoman administration and diversity in the early centuries, a lecture by the Turkish minister for foreign trade, Kusat Tuzman, and a talk by Andrew Mango on Ataturk’s legacy in Turkey today. Other lectures include Soner Çagaptay who spoke about the PKK and Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East, Turkish cartoonist Salih Memecan who gave a live demonstration of his artwork and spoke on the politics of art and humor in Turkey referencing the recent Danish cartoon controversy. See below for the full list of lectures. Through partnerships with the SIPA Turkish initiative and other groups on campus, including the Turkish Ottoman Seminar (see list of topics below) the Middle East Institute hopes to continue building momentum in raising awareness on Turkey and promoting Turkish studies on campus.


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