The Annual YaleChess Lecture
Karen Barkey was born in Istanbul, Turkey. After she graduated from the Lycée Notre Dame de Sion, in Istanbul, she moved to the United States for her college education. She got her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. She then got a M.A. degree from The University of Washington and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Karen Barkey has been engaged in the comparative and historical study of the state, with special focus on its transformation over time. She has focused on state society relations, peasant movements, banditry, opposition and dissent organized around the state. Her main empirical site has been the Ottoman Empire, in comparison with France, the Habsburg, and the Russian Empires. She also pays attention to the Roman and Byzantine worlds as important predecessors of the Ottomans. She has worked in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul (Topkapı and Başbakanlık) as well as in Manisa. She also worked in the Archives Nationales in Paris.
She published an edited book, Choreography of Sacred Spaces: State, Religion and Conflict Resolution (with Elazar Barkan) (Columbia UP, 2014) that explores the history of shared religious spaces in the Balkans, Anatolia and Palestine/Israel, all three regions once under Ottoman rule. The book explores the politics and culture of conflict and cooperation over religious sites. It also provides the historical antecedents to help us understand the accommodation and contention around specific sites in the modern period, tracing comparatively areas and regime changes over time. In many places the long history of sharing sacred sites serves as an indicator of the possibilities for pluralism in the context of empire.