Betül is a scholar of the Ottoman Empire and has an interest in the social, economic, legal, and political transformations of majority Muslim societies in the age of modernity. Her courses contribute to the cross-disciplinary areas of Asian Studies, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, and Religious Studies. She uses an integrated and comparative approach in her teaching, with an emphasis on cross-cultural encounters between the Muslim world, Europe and the Mediterranean. She has worked extensively in the Ottoman archives and taught Ottoman language at the University of Chicago and Georgetown University.
In 2016, Betül directed a four-week National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers at the Institute of Turkish Studies, Washington D.C. entitled “Transcending Boundaries: The Ottoman Empire, Europe and the Mediterranean World, 1500-1800”. During the 2018-19 academic year, she was a fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. for her project tentatively titled “Cross-cultural Intimacy and Marriage between Foreigners and Ottoman Women in the Early Modern Era”. Her work in progress includes a manuscript about Ottoman princesses Niloufer and Durrushehvar, who married the sons of Hyderabad’s last hereditary ruler in 1931, following the abolition of the Islamic caliphate in 1924.
Born and raised in Izmir on the Aegean coast, Betül travels to Turkey regularly for research and family visits.
Courses Recently Taught
- RELG 314. Islamic Empires in the Medieval and Early-Modern Eras
- RELG 355. Women, Gender and Politics in the Muslim World
- RELG 221. Introduction to Islamic Civilization
- RELG 350. Religion, Politics and Modernity in the Muslim World
- 1994 - B.A. - International Relations - Bilkent University
- 2006 - Ph.D. - Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations - University of Chicago
Areas of Expertise
- Ottoman Empire
- Social and Economic History of the Middle East
- Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
- Mediterranean Studies
- History of Islamic states and societies
- Women in the Muslim world
- Study of Islamic civilization
Başaran invited to speak on Princess Niloufer (1916-1989) at the Library of Congress as a part of Women’s History Month events
“Ottoman Princess Brides: Princess Niloufer in Hyderabad and Visual Journey of Exile,” focuses on Niloufer who was a member of the Ottoman royal dynasty and condemned to life-long exile following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and abolition of the Islamic caliphate in 1924. Her life is a fascinating story of exile from Turkey to the French Riviera, followed by royal glamor in Hyderabad and her evolution into a modern princess dedicated to women’s empowerment. Her story reveals a young woman who pushed past borders and boundaries of politics, religion and culture to become a pioneer for women’s advancement.
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building 3/12/2019 at 12:00 PM
“Cross-Cultural Intimacy and Marriage between Europeans and Ottoman Women in the Early Modern Era” at the Folger Institute, Washington DC
Associate Professor of Religious Studies Betül Başaran hosted a session of Material Witness on April 25 at the Deck B. Seminar Room at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.Titled “Cross-Cultural Intimacy and Marriage between Europeans and Ottoman Women in the Early Modern Era,” Başaran examined the common cross-cultural sexual relations between European men and Ottoman (mostly Greek and Armenian Orthodox) women during the early modern period in Ottoman commercial centers, port cities, and islands according to select European sources in the Folger collection.
Material Witness, a Folger Institute fellowships program, is designed to bring fellows-in-residence into conversation with one another and with local scholars. The series allows them to consider the value of the material object itself: the books, manuscripts, works of art, or historical artifacts that are essential to their work, thought-processes, and ideas.
Selim III, Social Control, and Policing in Istanbul at the end of the eighteenth century
In Selim III, Social Order and Policing in Istanbul at the End of the Eighteenth Century (Leiden: Brill, 2014) Başaran examines Sultan Selim III’s social control and surveillance measures. Drawing mainly from a set of inspection registers and censuses from the 1790s, as well as the Sharia court records she paints a colorful picture of the city’s residents and artisans. She argues that the period constitutes the beginnings of large-scale population control and crisis management and urges us to think about the Ottoman Empire as a polity that was increasingly becoming a “statistical” state, along with its contemporaries in Europe, and to go beyond mechanistic models of borrowing that focus primarily on military reform and European influence in our discussions of Ottoman reform and “modernity”.
“Some Observations on Istanbul’s Artisans during the reign of Selim III (1789-1808)"
Betül Başaran and Cengiz Kırlı, in (ed.) Suraiya Faroqhi, Bread From the Lion’s Mouth: Artisans Struggling for a Livelihood in Ottoman Cities, New York/Oxford: Berghann Books, Feb 2015.