Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ottoman affairs

I really enjoyed doing this interview with Danny O'Quinn about his remarkable new book Engaging the Ottoman Empire: Vexed Mediations, 1690-1815.

Small teaser:
I’m pretty committed to this violent non-traditional archive and to this unfamiliar repertoire: once one sees these things, they can’t be unseen. But violence poses extremely challenging theoretical questions for what we do: questions pertaining to the limits of form and representation, to matters of historical complicity, to the affective dynamics of economic and political domination and subjugation. Much of my work has revolved around matters of wartime affect; Engaging the Ottoman Empire feels like my most sustained attempt to understand the precarity of life as it permeates the mediascape.
You can find older installments of this interview series at Medium and also at the Rambling.

For me, this format is perfect. I like choosing and reading the book and thinking up the questions - and at that point, my work is pretty much done! The annoying conventions that have to be followed when you write a formal review for publication are a small bane of my existence. In general I prefer to write comments on manuscripts rather than weigh in once something's already been published (and I also place a higher priority on tenure and promotion letters than on published reviews), but I like getting to pose a few questions about things that struck me.

(Note to self: just said yes to promotion/tenure letter #6 for the summer, that is large workload, HARD NO TO ANYONE ELSE WHO ASKS! But then again if it's someone you know, it's very difficult to turn down. At Columbia, declines to write tend to be counted against the candidate, even when the refusal comes with a reasonable explanation that doesn't have to do with the candidate's work.)

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