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Zozan Pehlivan

Ph.D. candidate, History

The opportunity to do research overseas is important for Zozan Pehlivan’s doctoral dissertation

Zozan Pehlivan

Zozan Pehlivan at home in Istanbul

by Meredith Dault

June 02, 2011

When PhD student Zozan Pehlivan found out she'd won a prestigious dissertation fellowship from the Institute of History Research (IHR) in the United Kingdom, she couldn't believe her luck. "My heart soared, I felt like a butterfly," she writes in an email from Turkey (where she is visiting her family and conducting research). "It was an amazing moment for me."

Pehlivan, who began her doctoral degree in 2009, studies in the Department of History. She's currently investigating the Ottoman provincial economy by exploring the relationship between townspeople and the pastoral nomads. "The nomads provided raw materials, transportation and protection for cities and caravans," she explains, "while at the same time undermining inter-urban and rural security with their raids and banditry. Further, (my research) seeks to show how critical tribal-city relations within Kurdistan were to the recovery, expansion and survival of the commercial economy of Ottoman Asia."

Pehlivan applied for the IHR Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities directly, in hopes of having the opportunity to work with original material in the United Kingdom. "All North American Ph.D. students in the Humanities who wanted to use the British Archive can apply for this fellowship program," Pehlivan explains. "That makes it very competitive."

She says that spending 10 months in London (from October 2011 to August 2012) will be critical for her academic success. "The intellectual atmosphere of British Universities, especially the University of London with which I will be affiliated will help me formulate and carry out my research," she writes enthusiastically, "I am particularly eager to meet historians and graduate students who study different parts of the world. It will give me a different perspective."

Pehlivan, who is supervised at Queen's by Dr. Ariel Salzmann, is also excited about the opportunity to access the British Library, along with the United Kingdom's other revered libraries. Because of her specific subject matter, Pehlivan says the Queen's library can't always meet her needs. "That's why the dissertation fellowship from the IHR was so important."

As Pehlivan explains, that's because "significant primary source materials relevant to city-tribe relations in the Ottoman Middle East are located at a number of archives in Britain." The support of the UHR Mellon Dissertation Fellowship will enable Pehlivan to consult the British consular reports for the region, which she says are located at the National Archives in Kew Gardens, and in the collections of the University of London and the University of Oxford.

"With this research in-hand, I will be positioned to put together my doctoral dissertation during that period which focuses on city-tribe relations, tribal economy, and tribal networks and hopefully, their ties to foreign merchants including the East India Company. This is extremely important to understanding the economic development of the Ottoman Middle East."

Pehlivan, who expects to graduate in September of 2012, writes that she hopes her research will contribute to a "growing literature on the roots of regional development in the later Ottoman Empire, while highlighting the role of tribal groups in inter-urban trade in the pre-modern period." She hopes it will help both historians and policy makers reconsider the roots of conflict and economic underdeveloped in the region. "With this fellowship, I got a big opportunity to study something new in the field."