Heather Ferguson awarded M. Fuat Köprülü Book Prize for The Proper Order of Things

Heather Ferguson, associate professor of History at Claremont McKenna College, has been awarded the prestigious Köprülü Book Prize by the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association for The Proper Order of Things: Language, Power and Law in Ottoman Administrative Discourses (Stanford University Press).

The prize is given to “the most outstanding book” in the field of Ottoman and Turkish studies published in the previous year.

“The Ottoman archive in Ferguson’s book emerges not just as a repository of the past, but a means of forging the present of discursive power, whether in the seventeenth or the twenty-first century,” wrote Dr. Benjamin Fortna, the chair of this year’s book prize committee. Ferguson was honored at the recent Middle East Studies Conference reception in New Orleans.

Ferguson, a scholar and professor of Ottoman and Middle Eastern History, was also recently awarded a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She will use the funding to research her new book on archival ventures and last acts of ruling sovereigns of the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires.

“I am deeply honored by this esteemed award, and by the recognition from an organization that I have also served in the past as treasurer and board member,” Ferguson said. “It unites my commitments to both research and professional service.”

The Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association’s citation includes the following on Ferguson’s work: The Proper Order of Things crisply engages with key debates in the fields of early modern comparative history and critical theory.  The book weaves these literatures into its arguments derived from a mountain of Ottoman textual sources, eschewing facile attempts to try to show how the Ottoman Empire was “just like everyone else” by importing ideas from other fields.  As such, this book works to advance these other fields from the empire looking out, not the other way around.  If indeed the Ottoman Empire floated on a sea of documents, Heather Ferguson captains a new ship to sail those waters, even finding bays and inlets we never knew existed.”

“Heather Ferguson is an admired and respected scholar whose work is transformational,” said Peter Uvin, Dean of the Faculty and Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Claremont McKenna College. “We are proud that she has been recognized for her work.

- Gilien Silsby