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Lecture

The Use of the Occult Sciences in the Ottoman-Safavid Conflict

Date
17 November 2016
Time
Series
WHAT's NEW?! Fall Lecture Series
Address
Lipsius
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Room
Lipsius 003

The Use of the Occult Sciences in the Ottoman-Safavid Conflict

The historical-contextual examination of occult texts produced and widely circulated within different geographic and temporal realms of Islamic history remains one of the biggest lacunae in modern scholarship. There is yet a promising new literature that has only recently started to recognize the great potential of this plethora of textual and material artifacts in providing crucial insights into the political/ideological, religio-cultural, and intellectual/scientific realities of their times. In this talk, I will take as a case study three different examples drawn from such body of textual evidence, all produced for the Ottoman court during the earlier phase of their conflict with the Safavids. The select evidence represents three distinct genres and arts: annual astrological predicitons (taqwīm), an epistle on lettrism (ʿilm al-ḥurūf), and a confidential report of geomancy (ʿilm al-raml). Aside from showing the prevalence of the courtly reliance on occult arts and the frequent involvement of traditional scholars (ʿulamāʾ) in the production of occult knowledge, the contents of these examples provide intriguing new details about the ideological and military facets of the Ottoman-Safavid conflict.

About Tunç Sen

A. Tunç Sen (PhD, The University of Chicago, 2016) is University Lecturer of Ottoman History and Culture at Leiden University since 2016. He has also taught at the University of Chicago and Sabancı University. As a specialist in early modern Ottoman-Turkish history, culture, and philology A. Tunç Şen’s main areas of research and teaching include the history of knowledge, science, and the occult in late-medieval and early modern Islamicate world; practices of reading and writing in Islamic manuscript culture; and comparative political and religious history of the Turko-Persian polities in the post-Mongol era. He has published research and review articles on the Ottoman dream narratives, the cultivation of astrology and other divinatory practices in the early modern Ottoman world, and Ottoman book culture. He is currently working on two book projects: one is to turn into a monograph his dissertation entitled “Astrology in the Service of the Empire: Knowledge, Prognostication, and Politics at the Ottoman Court, 1450s-1550s”; and the other is the microhistorical study of a mid-sixteenth century Ottoman scholar and his social and emotional world.

This WHAT's NEW?! lecture is followed by drinks in cafe de Grote Beer (Rembrandtstraat 27).

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