A new chair in modern Turkish studies will be established thanks to a grant from the Turkish government, the Harvard Gazette reported.
The $750,000 grant was delivered to Harvard by the Turkish ambassador to the United States in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on January 31. It is one of a series established by the Turkish Government to enhance awareness of Turkish culture in the United States.
Although the grant does not specify the establishment of a chair in Turkish studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) plans to use it in combination with other funds to establish the chair, the Gazette reported.
According to the Gazette, the tenured position will be filled by an expert in the history of Turkey during its transitional phase from the late Ottoman to early Republic periods--a period during the early twentieth century.
According to Associate Director of the CMES Thomas Mullins, a search committee has been formed to fill the position.
Associate Professor of History Cemal Kafadar is a favorite for the positions, Mullins said. Kafadar already lectures in Ottoman history at Harvard.
Kafadar also teaches a popular core class, Historical Study A-40, "The Middle East and Europe Since the Crusades: Relations and Perceptions."
The new chair will give Harvard a more balanced Middle Eastern studies program--comprising Arabic, Persian and Turkish.
"Besides recently, has always had a professorship that covers this period," said Jewett Professor of Arabic Muhsin Mahdi. "This new professorship allows us to maintain the continuity in Turkish studies at Harvard."
According to Professor Mahdi, the new chair has implications for Turkish studies in the United States.
"Now that Harvard has one of the most distinguished Turkish studies faculties in the country, we will be better able to train other scholars in this field," he said.
Acting director of the CMES Edward L. Keenan, who is also Mellon Professor of History, said "this grant gives us the opportunity to make Harvard a real center for Turkish studies on a permanent basis."