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<< Wednesday, December 05, 2018 >>


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Townsend Center's Berkeley Book Chat: Barbara Spackman: Accidental Orientalists: Modern Italian Travelers in Ottoman Lands

Lecture | December 5 | 12-1 p.m. | Stephens Hall, Geballe Room


Townsend Center for the Humanities


Barbara Spackman (Italian Studies and Comparative Literature) examines narratives by Italians who, through historical accident, found themselves in Ottoman Egypt and Anatolia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and who wrote about their experiences. Among them are a young woman who learned Arabic, conversed with the inhabitants of an Ottoman-Egyptian harem, and wrote a memoir in Italian; a young man who converted to Islam, passed as Albanian, and published his memoir in English; and a princess living in exile who wrote in French to propose social reforms in the Ottoman Empire. Accidental Orientalists (Liverpool, 2017) shows its authors’ accounts throwing into question the imagined East-West divide, as Spackman reflects on the practices of cultural cross-dressing, conversion to Islam, and passing and posing as Muslim on the part of Italians — who were themselves often the object of orientalization within Europe.


All Audiences

All Audiences

Light refreshments are provided at Book Chats. Feel free to bring your own lunch.


townsendcenter@berkeley.edu