By examining the transfer of knowledge to the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Middle East, we demonstrate how European ideas were negotiated by local elites and given new meanings. Colonial modernity in the region was a product of a complex web of entangled histories and of cultural translation.
This panel is concerned with the cultural transfer and movement of different kinds of knowledge to the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Middle East. The panel includes four papers that are committed to the following two interrelated assumptions: (1) the transfer and/or movement of culture and knowledge in colonial and postcolonial contexts were reciprocal, meaning that Europe was reshaped in the colonies even as colonial subjects were engaging with the categories of colonizers; and (2) colonial subjects have shown not only possibilities of accepting or rejecting the knowledge and structures asserted by Europe, but also the possibility of changing the meaning of the basic concepts themselves. Accordingly, each paper presented in this panel focuses on a particular body of knowledge, demonstrating how this knowledge was transferred to the ottoman and post-Ottoman worlds and the extent to which it was accommodated-cum-translated to local circumstances and current power relations. Knowledge about sexuality and desire, law and criminality, addiction and intoxication, nationalism and political theory, was not only used by different elites, but in being used, it was also given new meanings. Our panel thus provides a vista into the nature of colonial modernity in the Middle East and the ways in which this modernity was/is a product of a complex web of entangled histories.