Public Lectures


The Ottoman Enlightenment: Cartographic Knowledge and Imperial Power in the Seventeenth Century Ottoman Empire

M. Pınar Emiralioğlu
January 23, 2020 | 4:00pm | Moody Center for the Arts, Lantern Studio 201
This presentation aims to investigate the close relationship between cartographical productions and articulation of imperial power in the seventeenth century Ottoman Empire. The end of the sixteenth century saw a radical transformation in the character and use of maps. After Ptolemy’s Geography was translated into Latin in the early fifteenth century, humanist scholars in Europe were exposed to a set of new techniques. Ptolemy’s works introduced a geometric approach to the depiction of space that was defined by the celestial grid of longitude and latitude. In the same period, innovations in printing and the expansion of a commercial market increased circulation as maps found a new audience, literate urbanites. Commercial map-printing houses of Italy and the Netherlands contributed to the standardization of maps used and distributed across Europe. Mapping in this period shaped how cartographers, intellectuals, and ruling elites conceived space, territory, and political power. 

Although this new development impacted the Ottoman world, the Ottoman cartographers and their works have not yet fully been integrated into these discussions. This presentation aims to fill this gap in the literature through a historical analysis of select cartographical works from the seventeenth century including the anonymous Ottoman portolan chart of the Mediterranean from 1652, which is housed in Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and the Ottoman Cartographer Katip Çelebi’s translation of Atlas Minor, completed in 1655. In doing so, it will argue that in the seventeenth century Ottoman ruling elites and cartographers did also start understanding their realms and measure their imperial authority in spatial terms. Further examination of the production process of these maps will also shed tentative lights into the global intellectual and professional networks in which Ottoman cartographers were operating. 

Speaker Bio:

Pınar Emiralioğlu completed her PhD at the University of Chicago in 2006. Her first book Geographical Knowledge and Imperial Culture in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Ashgate, 2014) explores the reasons for the flurry of geographical works in the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century. Currently, she is working on her second book project which investigates the close relationship between geographical knowledge and imperial politics in the Ottoman Empire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Among her articles are “Books on the “Wonders of Creation” and “Geography” in ʿAtufi’s Inventory,” in Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library Commissioned by Sultan Bayezid II from His Librarian ‘Atufi, edited by Gülru Necipoğlu, Cemal Kafadar, and Cornell Fleischer. Vol. 1 & 2. Leiden: Brill, 2019; “Südosteuropa in der kartografischen Kenntnis der Osmanen im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert (Southeast Europe in the Ottoman Cartography of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries),” in Fließende Räume Karten des Donauraums 1650–1800 (Floating Spaces: Maps of the Danube Region, 1650–1800), edited by Josef Wolf and Wolfgang Zimmermann, 97–109. Regensburg, Germany: Verlag Schnell & Steiner GmbH, 2017; “Islam and empire,” in Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by John MacKenzie (Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley­-Blackwell, 2016); “Cartography and the Ottoman Imperial Project in the Sixteenth Century,” in Imperial Geographies in Byzantine and Ottoman Space, edited by Sahar Bazzaz, Dimiter Angelov and Yota Batsaki (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University Press, 2013), 69–91; and “Cartography and Geographical Consciousness in the Ottoman Empire (1453-1730),” European Cartography and the Ottoman World, edited by Ian Manners (Chicago: Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago, 2007). Pınar teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on World History, History of the Middle East, and the Ottoman Empire. She is currently the Chair of the Department of History at Sam Houston State University. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction.