Middle East Studies

Book Talk | Orit Bashkin | Provincial Jews and Ottoman Power

Orit Bashkin Provincial Jews and Ottoman Power Feb 29 2024 Event Poster

Thursday, February 29, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Webinar. Registration link.

About the Event
This talk seeks to understand the ways in which Jewish communities commented on the politics, histories, and religions of the Ottoman Empire. Bashkin looks at Jewish communities in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, where many Jews, she argues, not only favored Ottoman and autonomous and semi-autonomous Arab rule, for geopolitical reasons but also perceived Muslim military victories as components of a Jewish Divine plan. During the 16th and 17th centuries, some Ottoman Jews identified their enemies with the enemies of the Ottoman Empire. They rejoiced at Ottoman political and military victories over the Safavid Shiite Empire, given the latter’s harsh implementation of the dhimma laws in Iran. They celebrated Ottoman victories over Christian empires, in particular Spain, given the mass expulsions of Jews from Spain and Portugal during the 1490s. They likewise believed that centralization in various Arab provinces would protect them from local actors and power players who might persecute the community. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as Jewish communities became more localized in the Arab provinces, they became closer to local rulers, whom, they felt, protected the Jewish people and contributed to their safety and prosperity.

Virtual Event

About the Speaker
Orit Bashkin is a historian who works on the intellectual, social, and cultural history of the modern Middle East. Bashkin got her Ph.D. from Princeton University (2004), writing a thesis on Iraqi intellectual history under the supervision of Professors Robert Tignor and Samah Selim, and her BA (1995) and MA (1999) from Tel Aviv University. Since Bashkin's graduation, she has been working as a professor of modern Middle Eastern history in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Bashkin's publications deal with Iraqi history, the history of Iraqi Jews, the Arab cultural revival movement (the nahda) in the late 19th century, and the connections between modern Arab history and Arabic literature. Bashkin's current research project explores the lives of Iraqi Jews in Israel. Bashkin's graduate students work on a range of issues: the cultural history of Ottoman Iraq; the British mandates in Trans Jordan and Iraq; leisure in the Arab world; Mizrahi women; Syrian diplomacy; the Ottoman press; and Arab political thought. At the University of Chicago, Bashkin teaches classes on nationalism, colonialism, and postcolonialism in the Middle East, on modern Islamic civilization, and on Israeli history.