Güler SABANCI's speech notes for
“Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award” Ceremony
Washington D.C.
10 May 2007

  • It is a great honor for me to be here in Washington to present the second “Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award”, on behalf of Sabancı University.

  •  It was the year before that Sabancı University and the Brookings Institution decided jointly to announce and administer an international research award on all aspects of Turkish culture, society, and politics, with a view to engaging intellectual attention on Turkey’s role in the contemporary world.

  • The resulting “Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award” has been endowed in perpetuity by the late Sakıp Sabancı, Honorary Chairperson of Sabancı University’s Board of Trustees.

  • Perceptions of the Ottoman Legacy in the Balkans and the Middle East” has been set as the topic for the 2007 Award. Applicants were urged to submit original research findings which examine and analyze perceptions regarding the historical, cultural, economic, and political legacy of Ottoman rule in the Balkans and the Middle East.

  • The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was particularly painful. The nations that emerged of the ashes of the Empire, including Turkey have long shunned the social and cultural legacy of the Ottoman Empire. Yet in the near past, we have observed the atrocities that took place in Bosnia, we continue to  witness the terrible situation in Palestine and in Iraq. These experiences allowed us to better appreciate the inclusive characteristics of Ottoman society. I hope that understanding our past through fresh research, will not only contribute to the fulfillment of this award’s objectives but also enlighten the way to create a better future.

  • This year, we received entries from many places of the world including Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Norway, Israel, Serbia, Turkey and the U.S.A. The jury selected 3 research essays out of 42 outstanding entries.

  • Before presenting the awards, let me introduce you our jury:
    1. Üstün Ergüder: Director, İstanbul Policy Center, Sabancı University. (Co-ordinator)
    2. Cornell H. Fleischer: Kanuni Suleyman Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies, University of Chicago.
    3. Cemal Kafadar: Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies, Harvard University
    4. Metin Kunt: Professor of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabancı University.
    5. Maria Todorova: Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    6. Elizabeth Zachariadou: Program Director, Institute for Mediterranean Studies in Rethymnon, Crete.
    7. Sami Zubaida: Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology, School of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck University of London
    8. Walter B. Denny: Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts
    9. Israel Gershoni: Professor of History, Tel-Aviv University

  • I’d like to thank the jury for their most valuable efforts. Let me now introduce the honorable mentions first:

- The first honorable mention goes to Edin Hajdarpasic. Hajdarpasic is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Michigan University, and  Fellow at the Michigan Institute for the Humanities. His essay is entitled: “Out of the Ruins of the Ottoman Empire: Reflections on Ottoman Legacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina”… Hajdarpasic is here with us today…Congratulations…

-…and the second honorable mention goes to Dr. Charles Sabatos. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Oberlin College. His work is entitled “ ‘Worse than a Turk’: Slovak Perceptions of Ottoman Legacy in Eastern Europe”. Dr. Sabatos is unfortunately not here with us today.

  • I would now like to introduce you the winners of this year’s competition:

- The Third Prize, goes to Maximilian Hartmuth with his work entitled: “De/Constrducting a ‘Legacy in Stone’: Of Interpretive and Historiographical Problems Concerning the Ottoman Cultural Heritage in the Balkans”. Hartmuth is a student at Sabancı University / History Graduate Program. Please welcome Mr. Maximilian Hartmuth…

- The Second Prize goes to Dr. Şuhnaz Yılmaz, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations Koç University and Dr. Ipek K. Yosmaoğlu, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their work is entitled: “Fighting the Specters of the Past: Dilemmas of Ottoman Legacy in the Balkans and the Middle East”. Please welcome Dr. Yılmaz and Dr. Yosmaoğlu to hear their remarks….

- And the winner of this year’s Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award is: Dr. Christine Philliou, Assistant Professor, Department of History Columbia University, with her essay entitled: “The Paradox of Perceptions: Interpreting the Ottoman Past Through the National Present”. Please welcome her to the stage…