Professor İlber Ortaylı Talk on the Turkic World and Current Issues in Turkology on the 26 April 2018
April 28, 2018
Professor İlber Ortaylı gave a lecture on “The Turkic World and Current Issues in Turkology” on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 3:00 PM in the Green Hall at Nazarbayev University. The talk was sponsored jointly by the Yunus Emre Center (Astana) and the Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nazarbayev University. Professor Ortaylı is on a speaking tour in Kazakhstan sponsored by the Yunus Emre Center. He was introduced by Dr. Almagul İsina (Yunus Emre Center), Turkish Ambassador Nevzat Uyanık, Dean Daniel Pugh (SHSS), and Professor Uli Schamiloglu (Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies). The talk was delivered in Turkish, with a translation into English by Dr. Halit Akarca (Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies, SHSS) as well as into Kazakh. He was introduced by Almagul Isina.
İlber Ortaylı was born in 1947 in a refugee camp in Bregenz, Austria, a destination where his family had arrived after fleeing from the USSR under Stalin. He grew up bilingual, speaking German with his father and Russian with his mother, through whom he is descended from Crimean Tatar nobility. His family later moved to Turkey when he was two years old. As a student İlber Ortaylı studied Slavic and Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna. After completed his M.A. at the University of Chicago under Halil İnalcik, he completed his Ph.D. at Ankara University. Professor Ortaylı has taught at Ankara University, Bilkent University, and Galatasaray University as well as at universities in Europe and Russia. From 2005 until 2012 he also served as director of the Topkapı Museum in Istanbul.
Professor Ortaylı is the best-known historian in Turkey today. In addition to his many works on the history of public administration in the Ottoman Empire, his best-known work is on German influence in the Ottoman Empire. This hardly does justice, however, to the wide breadth and depth of his publications on various aspects of the social, cultural, and political history of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. İlber Ortaylı is even better known, however, as the leading public intellectual in Turkey, a true phenomenon of his time.
Professor Ortaylı discussed the importance of language the linguistic similarity of most of the central Turkic languages to one another. He emphasized the importance of studying ancient history and philology, the importance of understanding developments in the 19th century for understanding the current situation, the importance of studying literature for having a deeper command of modern Turkic languages including Kazakh, as well as the importance of more modern genrese of cultural production such as theater and film. He answered questions about the Latinization of Kazakh and the further unification of the Turkic world. He did not think that the cultural and political unity of the Turkic world was necessary or likely, rather he saw strength in the diversity and mutual support of the Turkic peoples for one another. He wowed the packed hall with his impressive recitations from memory of texts in Persian, Azerbaijani, and even from Tacitus’s Germania in Latin, not to mention a phrase in Arabic. The audience, which included many students and faculty plus visitors from Eurasian National University, the International Turkic Academy, and the general public, was deeply impressed by the erudition and charisma of the speaker.