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Introducing: Hasan Colak

Hasan Colak is one of the two postdocs in Cátia Antunes’ ERC Research Project 'Fighting Monopolies'.

I was born in Turkey and obtained my undergraduate degree in History at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. During my studies there, where I began to learn Ancient Greek and Ottoman Turkish, I was intrigued by the idea of comparative use of the sources in these languages in understanding the transition from Byzantine to Ottoman rule. This idea had a profound influence on my further academic endeavor. Thus, when I moved to Bilkent University, Ankara to study under the supervision of Eugenia Kermeli, I wrote my MA thesis on a legal dispute between the Ottoman administration and the Patriarch of Constantinople over the possession of churches in 16th-century Istanbul on the basis of a Greek chronicle and contemporary Ottoman legal opinions ( fatâwâ). I was also mesmerized by the level of myth-making in tandem with the formation of the ideology of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has been taken up by various strands of scholars without much questioning. Therefore, I wanted to look at the same picture from a more provincial prism and decided to work on the Eastern Patriarchates, namely Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. 

I wrote my PhD dissertation in the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham under the joint supervision of an Ottomanist, Rhoads Murphey (lead supervisor), and a Byzantinist,  Ruth Macrides. Looking at a large corpus of published and unpublished archival and narrative sources in Ottoman Turkish, Greek and French, my PhD dissertation aimed at analyzing the transformation of the political and economic networks that the Eastern Patriarchates established from the periphery of the Ottoman Empire and the international arena to its center from the 16th to the 18th century. Turkish Historical Society undertook the research expenses of my dissertation, which is currently being reviewed for publication by this institution. I was meanwhile awarded two doctoral fellowships, one by the Turkish Cultural Foundation and the other by the Alexander Onassis Public Benefit Foundation which enabled me to study in Greece for one year. 

In addition to church-state relations I have also presented and published papers on representation of Ottoman imperial authority, communal relations between Muslims and Christians in Istanbul, images of Christians in Ottoman narrative sources, Catholic missions vis-à-vis Ottoman Christians and Muslims in the Levant, and local, religious, and political identities of Greek-speaking and Arabic-speaking Ottoman Christians. During my PhD studies I was awarded a grant by the Roberts Funding to teach a Turkish language course for postgraduate students in Birmingham, and prior to joining Leiden I taught ‘History of Turkey’ at Bilkent University for one year. 

As of 1 September 2013 I work at Leiden University’s Institute for History in Cátia Antunes’ ERC Research Project 'Fighting Monopolies' as a post-doctoral researcher in Ottoman history. I am particularly fascinated about studying the cross-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and pluri-national nature of the networks in which free agents, both Western European and Muslim and non-Muslim  Ottoman merchants, interacted in Ottoman contexts. On a broader level, I am also keen on contributing to the current literature on the agency of individuals and particular communities in the formation of early Modern Empires.

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