2021/ 2022

Ezgi Sarıtaş

EUME Fellow of the Gerda Henkel Foundation

Entangled Histories of Sexual Modernity: Transfer, Translation, and Adaptation of European Sexual Discourses in the Ottoman Empire

Ezgi Sarıtaş received her Ph.D. from Ankara University in Gender Studies. Her dissertation titled “Heteronormativity and Its Instabilities: Sexual Modernity During Late Ottoman and Republican Periods” was published as a book in Turkish with the title Cinsel Normalligin Kurulusu (Construction of Sexual Normality) in 2020. She is a research assistant at Ankara University where she teaches courses on feminist and queer theories, gender and sexuality, histories of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. She is a former visiting scholar at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a grant from The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). Her research focuses on sexual modernities of the Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic, and the feminist movement in modern Turkey. She works with various civil society organizations, groups, and journals in Turkey engaged in feminist and queer activism and research. In the academic year 2021/2022 she receives a stipend from the Gerda Henkel Foundation and is a postdoctoral Fellow of “Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe” (EUME) at the Forum Transregionale Studien as well as a visiting scholar at the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin from January to September 2022.

Entangled Histories of Sexual Modernity: Transfer, Translation, and Adaptation of European Sexual Discourses in the Ottoman Empire

The project focuses on how the Ottoman and Turkish modernization projects transferred, translated, and negotiated European sexual discourses. It rests on the idea that examining the circulation, translation, and adaptation of legal, medical, and literary discourses used in sexualized identity building as well as othering strategies are crucial to understanding the ideas, beliefs, and practices that link and divide the modernities of Europe and the Middle East. By questioning disciplinary boundaries between the history of science, law, and literature, the project is concerned with the shared nineteenth-century epistemologies that are shaped by modern medical-scientific discourses of sexology as well as themes, tropes, and figures of decadence, degeneracy and sexual purity that circulated transnationally. These themes, tropes, and figures function as nodes of the entangled histories of modern sexualities through which meanings of racialized sexual otherness are knotted. By employing an intertextual and interdiscursive methodology to study a variety of sources such as sexology texts, literature, and state archives, the project emphasizes the instabilities of modern sexualities that construct the distinction between the West and the Orient.