OttRec: Ottoman Recogito
Antonis Hadjikyriacou, Hilmi Murat Akşehirli, Nesli Ruken Han, Abdul Halim bin Haji Mohamad Bohari, Ayşe Tuğba Silahtar, and Sefer Soydar (Boğaziçi University)
The project aims to test the applicability of Recogito within the field of Ottoman studies and to function as a starter towards the ambitious project of compiling an Ottoman gazetteer.
The idea behind this project developed out of the ‘Spatial History’ postgraduate seminar at the Department of History of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul (Spring semester 2018). The course introduced Recogito to the students, and part of the assessment was to use the tool in order to map spatial relationships in different kinds of Ottoman historical texts. The sources used for these student projects included: Ottoman travelogues and contemporary histories; records of the assets of the pious endowments belonging to the founder of a powerful family of Ottoman statesmen (Köprülü Mehmet pasha); and readers’ letters to Kadınlar Dünaysı, one of the first Ottoman women’s magazines. Recogito proved to be an extremely useful tool, revealing spatial patterns that were otherwise difficult to be discerned, while it did not require the specialised knowledge of GIS software. A major challenge is the limited degree of representation of Ottoman place names in Recogito’s existing gazetteers.
Building on this initial body of work, OttRec brings together the students of the course to work during the summer. The project will investigate further the usability of Recogito for annotating a particular historical source: the Islamic court records of Istanbul.
This type of source has traditionally been used as a window into the social and economic history of the Ottoman world. The records contain information on commercial litigation, records of transactions, the transfer of fixed and moveable assets, or probate registers, to mention just a sample of the kinds of data found in the Istanbul court records. As the imperial capital, Istanbul was also the commercial and financial centre, bringing together economic actors from across the Ottoman world. It is precisely this web of economic and otherwise relations that OttRec will map and visualise.
Secondly, the project will further examine the relevance of the existing gazetteers embedded in Recogito for mapping Ottoman place names. Where place names are not currently available in Recogito’s gazetteers, these will be identified and entered into a separate database, and thus form the first steps for building a specific Ottoman Gazetteer.