Ottoman Bosnia - Texts, Materials, Interpretations

Friday, 08 June, 2001: various

This conference has two related aims. The first is to stimulate current research and thinking about the history (politics, administration, society, religion, culture) of Ottoman Bosnia. The second is to mark, and make use of, the achievements of the “Bosnian Manuscript Ingathering Project” (“BMIP”), which has recovered copies of a significant proportion of the manuscript materials formerly held in the library of the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo. This collection was completely destroyed by incendiary shells in 1992; painstaking research by the BMIP (organised by Andras Riedlmayer at Harvard) has traced microfilms and other copies of many of these documents in collections all over the world. The organisers of this conference feel that it is important not only to recover such documents physically, but also to stimulate their study and use. In addition to the Bosnian experts in this field, there are also specialists in universities in America, Western Europe and Turkey who have worked on these materials, or have expertise in the interpretation of similar materials in other Ottoman archives. We hope that bringing these scholars together will provide a valuable experience for both them and their Bosnian colleagues.


Many academic conferences turn out to consist of a somewhat random presentation of work-in-progress. We hope to achieve something more focussed. We should like each speaker to talk about some aspect of the documentary evidence used in the study of Ottoman Bosnia – about a particular type of source-material (e.g. early defters, or legal records, or “Aljamiado” texts, or nineteenth-century salnames), or a particular text (e.g. Evliya Celebi, or one of the Ottoman Bosnian chronicles), about the problems of interpreting (or editing) such evidence, or coordinating and reconciling it with other contemporary evidence of a different kind, or about the history of the modern historiography based on such evidence (e.g. the hunt for “Bogomils” in the early records, the changing assumptions of demographic historians about how to extrapolate from defters), and so on. The term “materials” in the title of the conference is broad enough to include, for example, architectural evidence such as the chronograms studied by Machiel Kiel. While the primary focus will of course be on Bosnian materials, it is hoped that some experts on other Ottoman archives, etc., who may not have any direct experience of Bosnian materials, will also have useful contributions to make.

Attachment: ottoman_bos.pdf
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