ResearchResearch Project on Cartoons from the Late and Post-Ottoman Context

Press Release No. 13/2024
25 January 2024

As scholarly sources they are expected to provide new insights into society, culture and politics in a turbulent age

Arab, Ottoman and Turkish caricatures and cartoons from the late and post-Ottoman context are the subject of a research project led by Prof. Dr Anna Kollatz, Islamic Studies scholar and Arabist at Heidelberg University. The aim is to develop a new approach to the society, culture and politics of an age between the world wars characterised by great upheavals. Another question is whether cartoons were not only the results of discourses “from the middle of society” but were themselves drivers of changes. The project is going ahead in cooperation with Dr Veruschka Wagner from the University of Bonn. The Volkswagen Foundation has allocated 80,000 euros to fund it for a period of 18 months.

PM 11/2024: Karikaturen Collage

“Cartoons as a source of research findings have so far received little attention in Islamic Studies although they deal with social conditions and discourses,” underlines Prof. Kollatz, whose teaching and research takes place at the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Near East at Heidelberg University. As part of the project “What’s so funny? Caricature as a Sphere of Communication in the Late and Post-Ottoman Context” the researchers from Heidelberg and Bonn want to set up an international, interdisciplinary working group that investigates cartoons as mirrors and drivers of social, cultural and political changes.

“The age before and after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923 was characterised by major changes and strongly influenced by international events. Often, however, research attention only focuses on fragments of this late and post-Ottoman age,” underlines Dr Wagner, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of Bonn. For this reason, the scholars from Heidelberg and Bonn want to place the interwar years, which were influenced by “colonial interests”, at the centre of their research as a coherent period. They intend to avoid a Eurocentric perspective by adopting a transcultural approach including both internal and external perceptions.

The Volkswagen Foundation is financing the project under the heading “Open Up – New Research Spaces for the Humanities and Cultural Studies”. This is a programme funding project teams of two or three researchers engaged in exploring fresh, innovative topics.