A Tale of Two Discourses: The Historiography of Ottoman-Muslim Medicine.

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Although the history of medicine in the Ottoman period has received considerable attention, especially from Turkish scholars, standard general works on the history of Muslim science and medicine after the Middle Ages rarely discuss Turkish and Ottoman medicine. Furthermore, the limited discussion usually does not go beyond referring to great medical discoveries in the Ottoman Empire or alternatively its intellectual decline. The yardstick for the evaluation of Ottoman medicine seems to have been exposure to and acceptance of European medicine. Ottoman medicine was thus positioned between two simplistic poles, the dichotomy of "East" and "West." This article explore why, despite its erudition, Turkish scholarship of Ottoman medicine is hardly utilized by Western scholars, even those specializing in Muslim medicine, and why the two discourses have shared a static image of Ottoman medicine. The answers appear in the scholarship that came about because of two different discourses - one Orientalist and Arabist, the other nationalist and Turkish - that joined together for different reasons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2008


  • History of medicine
  • Historiography
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Muslims
  • Scholars
  • Science
  • Turkey
  • Hstoriography
  • Islam
  • Medicine
  • Ottomans


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