Stela Tasheva, Sasha Lozanova

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Fig. 1. Chilehaus by Fritz Höger, 1924; Hamburg, Germany

 

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg now impresses with its architectural scale of spacious boulevards, gardens and lakes, with the vast areas of its port’s facilities and commuter belt, with the riches of its museums and galleries and their attractive shows. The physical traces of its wide ethnic diversity, bustling cycle routes and the large number of clocks in key positions across city complete its shining picture.

Still, our particular goal was to take part in the Second European Convention on Turkic, Ottoman and Turkish Studies, Turkologentag 2016, held in September by the University of Hamburg’s Asien-Afrika-Institut (Turkologie), a successor to the Colonial Institute of Hamburg (Hamburgische Kolonialinstitut).

Turkologentag 2016 Convention was very much like a congress due to the keen interest shown by over 250 applicants. Most of the participating researchers were representatives of German institutes and universities, or from other European, mostly northern, countries as well as from the Balkans, Armenia, India and Japan. Just a few from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine, Romanian and Russia attended the event: in such a thematic context (Turkic and Ottoman Studies), such an allocation resulted in certain partiality in the areas of research. At the same time, a number of Turkish researchers were listed in the programme, but many of them have not been able to travel.

 

The theme and the venue of the convention was a meeting point of historical and actual factors. The former include Germany’s active research traditions in studying the Orient and particularly, the history, economy, culture, etc., of the pre-Ottoman, Ottoman and post-Ottoman periods, including the numerous archaeological expeditions (mounted acrively even in the nineteenth century), as well as their vast museum and archival collections related to the East. Today, a lot of German research centres and organizations are also dealing with the Oriental and Turkic Studies. The topicality of the theme was also predefined by the fact that currently, several generations (or over four million) of Turkish extraction live in Germany.

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Fig. 2. Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany is expected to open doors in January 2017

 

The convention lasted four days with concurrent sessions and panels. The participants held lengthy discussions and to show interest or approval would often pound fists on the table, instead of clapping their hands.

The participation activity is observable in the sessions held as follows: Ottoman Studies – 26 panels; Literary Studies – 18; Turkish Studies – 10; Cultural Studies – 7; Religious Studies – 6; Linguistics – 5; Social Sciences/Migration – 4; German-Turkish Language – 3; Music – 3; Studies on Central Asia – 3; Training – 2; Anthropology – 1. At nights, leading German experts delivered plenary lectures, book launches were organised, and Ottoman manuscripts from Hamburg collections were on display. For us, a good example of relevant research practices was set by the panel chaired by Artemis Yagou on the life, the ways and the cultures of Non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire,  as well as by the recent studies made available at the panels on history of science, technologies, cultural heritage and design. We deem the failure to publish abstracts to be an oversight by the organisers as the parallel sessions prevented us to hear some parts of the delivered papers.

So, the participants’ genuine enthusiasm; the variety of topics, issues and viewpoints; the ambiguous terminology; the syncretism of the disciplines and the differing evaluations of the studied matter made the convention held in that sunny September memorable.