This project investigates the life of a convert, Mehmet Şükrü who was born to a Muslim family in a small village in the eastern territories of the Ottoman Empire in 1861, adopted the name Hovannes Avetaranian and died as a devoted Protestant missionary in Wiesbaden Germany in 1919. Tracing Avetaranian’s exceptional journey, his views on the world, his curiosity and soul-searching, self-proselytization and conversion, his missionary life from the Kashgar Mountains in China to Potsdam in Germany, Zeynep Türkyılmaz seeks to uncover a trajectory of critical, dissenting and emancipatory entanglements of the local population in the Ottoman countryside with the modern-world -in-the-making. Since this project is at its preliminary stage, the talk raises questions about archives and methodology, and seeks the participants’ critical engagements.
The Journey of Hovannes Avetaranian: A Quest for Self-determination at the End of Empire (1861-1919)
Zeynep Türkyılmaz (Universität Potsdam / EUME Fellow 2017-21), Chair: Pascale Ghazaleh (AUC / EUME Fellow 2017-19)
Zeynep Türkyılmaz received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009. Her dissertation, “Anxieties of Conversion: Missionaries, State and Heterodox Communities in the Late Ottoman Empire,” is based on intensive research conducted in Ottoman, British, and several American missionary archives. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill between 2009 and2010 and a postdoctoral EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in 2010/11. She worked as an Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College between 2011 and 2016 and as a program coordinator and research fellow at Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations finishing her book project based on her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests include state formation, gender, nationalism, colonialism, and religion with a focus on heterodoxy and missionary work in the Middle East from 1800 to the present. She returned as a EUME Fellow for the academic years 2017 to 2021. Starting October 2021, she is a research fellow of the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms at Universität Potsdam, and remains affiliated with EUME.