Research on pre-modern Southeastern Europe is often challenged by the nature and availability of sources, i.e. their limited number or uneven distribution, combined with an often-elusive style, precarious state or unsystematic preservation. This conference proposes to address such source-induced limitations of research through a reversal of perspective: It will explore practices, strategies, and fields of recording, gathering and organizing information in Ottoman Europe from the 15th to the early 19th century in order to launch a comparative discussion about how central sources of the early modern period came to be.
Bringing traditional scholarship into dialogue with recent research on archives, documentary practices, scribal cultures and administration, the conference intends to explore a range of scholarly approaches to procedures of recording and record-keeping. Taking advantage of the inherently comparative notion of Ottoman Europe, the proposed topic offers an opportunity to discuss assumptions of different “cultures of recording,” evolving along or crossing confessional, political or professional lines until the early 19th century.