Past Event

Tunç Sen - Empire of Experts, Experts of Empire: Early Modern Ottomans and the Question of (Scientific) Expertise

September 27, 2023
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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Online and in-person: Fayerweather Hall (Room 513), Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York

Event Description 

The early modern Ottoman Empire, much like its Eurasian counterparts, was a polity teeming with experts. But who exactly were these "experts of the empire"? What services did they render? And how was their expertise acquired, acknowledged, and even certified? This talk will explore those groups and individuals whose specialized knowledge, technical know-how, and experiential wisdom were esteemed, sought after, or at times, contested at the Ottoman court. Unlike the conventional royal patronage of arts and sciences in pre-modern courts, where individuals with a particular set of skills served as courtiers, the Ottomans created a bureaucratic framework to harness and govern expertise in various crafts and sciences. This structure, designating an individual as the chief and placing others in roles below and beside him, spanned virtually every area of specialization, from medicine and architecture to the astral sciences. Yet, questions arise about on what grounds these experts were chosen and elevated to the role of chief, and what the implications and costs of this bureaucratic structure were in the transmission and advancement of sciences. These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this talk. 

Event Speaker

Tunç Sen, Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University

Event Information

This event is free and open to the public; Registration required. Please contact [email protected] or [email protected] with any questions. 

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:

  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • The New York Academy of Sciences

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