Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - Evening Program
Why Early Modern History Matters: Tracking the Terminology of "Difference" in Past Lives and Present Perspectives
Heather Ferguson

In a world dominated by escalating environmental, social, and political crises, Heather Ferguson, associate professor of history at CMC, believes that the discipline of history serves as a mechanism that introduces a “pause” in potentially volatile debates. Studying the past requires caution, an awareness of difference across geographies, experiential frames, and chronologies, and the time to construct an argument based on contextual analysis. She will illustrate how studying an early modern empire, shaped by the Ottoman dynasty and lasting for almost 600 years, yields new frameworks for analyzing how categories of difference are meticulously constructed through a convergence of institutional structures and everyday practice which, centuries later, help us "see" the definitions that shape our own contemporary experiences.

Heather Ferguson is an associate professor of Ottoman and Middle Eastern History at Claremont McKenna College. She received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas-Austin and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. She joined the faculty at CMC in 2011 after completing a two-year postdoctoral position at Stanford University with the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and History Departments.

Ferguson is an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2014-2015, for her book project entitled The Proper Order of Things: Language, Power and Law in Ottoman Administrative Discourses published by Stanford University Press in June 2018. Currently she is working on a second monograph that explores Sovereign Valedictions: “Last Acts” in Ottoman and Habsburg Courts supported by an NEH Summer Research Stipend. Her research focuses broadly on comparative early modern empires, documentary genres and discourses of power, linkages between archives and state governance, as well as on legal and urban transformations around the Mediterranean. She serves as editor of the Review of Middle East Studies, associate editor for the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and was an inaugural member of the Claremont Faculty Leadership Program.

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