Religious Change and the Ottoman Empire

Historians used to portray the Ottoman Empire as a theocracy, a Muslim state ruled by religious figures who formally dealt with Orthodox Christian, Jewish, and other communities through their respective clerical representatives. However, in the last two decades, new scholarship has shifted focus away from religious doctrine and dogma to issues of lived religion and religious experiences across the Ottoman Empire. This seminar will explore themes of religious (particularly Islamic) law and practice, relations between Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, conversion, and changing use of religion in politics and international diplomacy, primarily in the early modern and modern periods (sixteenth to nineteenth century).