Past Event

Citizens and Mothers: Women and the State in Ottoman Society

May 13, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul and Columbia Global Centers | Amman
cordially invite you to a panel on "Citizens and Mothers: Women and the State in Ottoman Society."

Date: Monday, May 13
Time: 18:00 
Location: Studio-X Istanbul
Meclis-i Mebusan Cd. No:35, Salıpazarı

*This event will be in English, with no translation into Turkish.

About the Panel
Although women make up half of the world’s population, they are still minorities in the workforce and at every level of government across developed and developing nations alike. The differential regulation of bodies and behaviors by employers, states, and others still often turns on issues of gender and sex. Women’s reproductive rights, often discussed separately from human rights, are still a source of contention in many places around the world; and motherhood and reproduction still play key roles in nationalist and other political imaginaries.

This panel will shed light on contemporary questions about women and gender by exploring the history of women, motherhood, and reproduction in the Eastern Mediterranean between 1840 and the present. After the four presentations by the speakers, the event will close with a panel discussion and questions from the audience. Through a conversation bridging history, anthropology, and contemporary politics, the panelists will address the question of how female citizenship, motherhood and reproduction have changed from the Ottoman era to modern-day Turkey and the Levant.


Gülhan Balsoy is an associate professor of history at İstanbul Bilgi University, History Department. She received her Ph.D. at Binghamton University, New York. She spent a year at Berlin as a post-doctoral researcher at the “Europe in the Middle East-The Middle East in Europe” (EUME) program. She is the author of The Politics of Reproduction in Ottoman Society, 1838–1900 (Routledge, 2013). The Turkish translation of this book, Kahraman Doktor İhtiyar Acuzeye Karşı won the 2016 Yunus Nadi Social Sciences and Research Award. Dr. Balsoy’s research interests include late Ottoman social history, history of women and gender and history of medicine. Currently she is working on a book project that explore the urban experiences of destitute women in late nineteenth century Ottoman Istanbul.

Tuba Demirci is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences at Altınbaş University. Her research focuses on various aspects of gender, making of gender regimes, history of family and social policy, feminist movement, feminist historiography, women’s lives in the Middle East in general and Ottoman-Republican Turkey in particular. Recently, she published a paper titled “On the Margins of Politicized Motherhood; Mothers’ Human Rights Activism Revisited in Turkey from the 1970s to the 1990s” in Mothers in Public and Political Life, edited by Pınar Melis Yelsalı and Simone Bohn.

(Moderator) Susanna Ferguson will receive her Ph.D. in Middle East History from Columbia University in May 2019. Her dissertation, "Tracing Tarbiya:Women, Childrearing, and Education in Egypt and Lebanon, 1860-1939," used conceptual history methods to track the relationship between new educational infrastructures and new pedagogical ideas in Egypt and Greater Syria between the last decades of the Ottoman Empire and World War II. It focused on the contributions of women intellectuals to Arabic thought; on new constructions of gender and family; and on the anxieties of educational politics in the Arab world's "liberal age."