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CSI'S Monday Majlis: Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer

The CSI Monday Majlis is a Monday evening, online event, where invited speakers present on aspects of their current research

Event details


In a successful empire, Jane Burbank and Fred Cooper have argued, “neither consistent loyalty nor constant resistance [but] contingent accommodation,” was what took place. At the core of the imperial ideologies of the early modern era was, therefore, the implicit principle according to which “different peoples within the polity [would] be governed differently.” As political entities with a great degree of heterogeneity and of reliance on both incorporation and differentiation, most of the imperial centers followed the practice of “mix[ing], match[ing], and transform[ing] their ways of rule” to adapt to changing circumstances within and beyond their boundaries. In the Ottoman case, the territorial expansion of the empire and its intense bureaucratization in the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries did not fully eradicate the fragility and flexibility of the state. Rather than becoming an all-powerful state in the Weberian sense, the more expanded and bureaucratized the political establishment became, the more flexible (and also arbitrary) it turned out to be to simply accommodate the needs and priorities of its ballooning governing circle and increasing number of constituencies. Recognizing the limits, as well as the elasticity, of the early modern state and its religious outlook naturally raises another question: What was then the power of its subjects and what did their subjecthood mean? In this talk, I aim to answer this question with a novel approach that moves beyond the conventional theories of the state-subject dichotomy according to which the latter has denoted passiveness.



Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer is an assistant professor of History at New York University. Her area of expertise is early modern Ottoman and Safavid Empires. Her publications examine empire formation in the Middle East and its enmeshment with sectarian, geo-political, and fiscal issues, particularly in inter-confessional and inter-imperial contact zones, such as Anatolia, Kurdistan, and western Iran. She has been awarded fellowships by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NYU’s Center for Humanities, and Bradley Foundation. She is currently completing her monograph, titled Politics of Sectarianism in the Early Modern Middle East: Ottoman Sunnism, Safavid Shiism, and the Qizilbash.


In the spirit of the label ‘Majlis’ and also to make the talks even more interesting, we are experimenting with a new format presenting the topic discussed by our speaker as embedded in their own research journey. Please come and enjoy the talks and the discussions. If you’d like to be included in the CSI (Centre for the Study of Islam (Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter) mailing list, please contact the CSI Manager: Sarah Wood (

We’ll be happy to welcome you!

Istvan T Kristó-Nagy


We’d like to invite you to the next online Monday Majlis of the Centre for the Study of Islam, Exeter:

Monday the 8th of May, 17:00-18:30 (UK time)

Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer, Neither Victim, Nor Accomplice: The Qizilbash and the Notion of Subjecthood in Ottoman-Safavid Rivalry

Register in advance for this meeting: