Before I found myself dabbling with documents at the Ottoman archives in Istanbul for the first time, I had already finished my double-major degree in Sociology (B.A.) and Computer Science (B.S.). What took me to the archives was my growing interest in the late Ottoman world, which offered me an intriguing context to rethink and mold many of theoretical questions shaped by my social theory background, contemporary politics, and personal experiences. After a captivating visit to Syria in 2009, this temporal shift was accompanied by a geographical one. Having taught myself Ottoman and started learning Arabic, I embarked on the historian’s craft during my M.A. at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul.
My M.A. research focusses on the Ottoman state response to the infamous Damascus Events of 1860. For me, this episode in history is a strategic entry point for many historiographical debates within and outside the field. I therefore want to extend my research into my doctoral study at Department of Near Eastern Studies. On the one hand, it is an opportunity to put various sources and historiographies (Arabic, Ottoman, and European) in a much needed conversation, therefore underlining the connections between these entities during the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, it is a fecund context to delve deeper into my interests in urban violence, inter-communal relations, nineteenth-century “modernizing” reforms, and what constitutes “a historical event.”