Week Eight — August 11–17
Turkey: Crossroads of Many Faiths
Recent archaeological finds have led some to believe that Turkey may have been the cradle of civilization. We know it to have a prominent position in Biblical history and to have provided a fertile womb for the birthing of Christianity. Orthodox Christianity took root in Turkey and was later supplanted as a majority by Islam, and Sufism within Islam was made known in Turkey by Rumi. This week we will discover why, while claiming to be a secular state, religion is still the heart of Turkey.
Monday, August 12
Ambassador Martin Indyk
vice president and director of the
Foreign Policy Program at The Brookings Institution
Martin S. Indyk is vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at The Brookings Institution. Previously, he was the founding director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings and a Brookings senior fellow. He served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995-97 and from 2000-2001.
Ambassador Indyk served as special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council (1993-1995) and as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. Department of State (1997-2000). Before entering the U.S. government, he was founding executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy for eight years. He currently serves as chairman of the International Council of the New Israel Fund and on the boards of the Lowy Institute for International Policy (Australia) and the Institute for National Security Studies (Israel).
Dr. Indyk received a B. Econ. from Sydney University and a Ph.D. from the Australian National University. He is the author of Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East, which was published by Simon and Schuster in January 2009. Most recently, he co-authored Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy (with Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Lieberthal).
Director of Regional Security Programs
at the Center for the National Interest
Tuesday, August 13
Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. He has written extensively on U.S.-Turkish relations, Turkish domestic politics, and Turkish nationalism, publishing in scholarly journals and major international print media, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, Jane's Defense Weekly, Newsweek Türkiye, and Habertürk. He is a regular columnist for Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey's oldest and most influential English-language paper, and a contributor to CNN's Global Public Square blog. He appears regularly on Fox News, CNN, NPR, Voice of America, al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN-Turk, and al-Hurra.
A historian by training, Dr. Cagaptay wrote his doctoral dissertation at Yale University on Turkish nationalism. Dr. Cagaptay has taught courses at Yale, Princeton University, Georgetown University, and Smith College on the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe. His spring 2003 course on modern Turkish history was the first offered by Yale in three decades. From 2006-2007 he was Ertegun Professor at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies.
Dr. Cagaptay is the recipient of numerous honors, grants, and chairs, among them the Smith-Richardson, Mellon, Rice, and Leylan fellowshipsships, as well as the Ertegun chair at Princeton. He has also served on contract as chair of the Turkey Advanced Area Studies Program at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute. In 2012 he was named an American Turkish Society Young Society Leader.
Wednesday, August 14
Elizabeth H. Prodromou
affiliate scholar, Center for European Studies, Harvard University
Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou is an Affiliate Scholar at the Center for European Studies (CES) at Harvard University, where she Co-Chairs the Southeastern Europe Study Group. She is a retired, senior US diplomat, having served (2004-2012) as Vice-Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. She is currently a member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Religion & Foreign Policy Working Group: Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.
Dr. Prodromou is a recognized expert on issues of religion and security, religion and US foreign policy, democracy, human rights, religious freedom, and religious radicalism in America. She is a regional expert on Southeastern Europe and the Near East. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Harvard International Review, Journal of Democracy, Orbis, Survival, Journal of Faith & International Affairs, European Journal of Political Research, as well as in numerous scholarly volumes. She has extensive policymaking experience as a consultant to the US diplomacy, defense, and intelligence communities; to international organizations, such as NATO and the UN; and to government ministries and NGOs in EU member-states. She also has a background in international banking, with expertise in political risk assessment and bank debt restructuring packages, and she consults to financial institutions on religious-political risk factors for private investment. A frequent contributor and guest commentator on foreign policy, religion, and security in all the major media news sources, she has appeared as a commentator and analyst on television and radio outlets such as Voice of America (Iran, Greece), National Public Radio, New England Cable News, and numerous regional radio programs.
Dr. Prodromou holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in political science from MIT., an M.A.L.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a B.A. inin international relations and history from Tufts University.
Thursday, August 15
Ori Z. Soltes
Goldman Professorial Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts, Georgetown University
Ori Z. Soltes teaches theology, philosophy, and art history at Georgetown University. He has also taught across diverse disciplines for many years at The Johns Hopkins University, Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Siegel College in Cleveland, and other colleges and universities. Having spent a lifetime wrestling with questions that resonate through the history of the human experience, his dynamic teaching, lecturing, curating, and writing reflect a broad series of interests and a unique ability to combine them in unusual ways that are thought-provoking and intellectually exciting.
Dr. Soltes has lectured at dozens of museums across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has been interviewed for a score of programs on archaeological, religious, art, literary and historical topics on CNN, the History Channel and Discovery Channel, and he hosted a popular series on Ancient Civilizations for middle school students.
For seven years, Dr. Soltes was Director and Chief Curator of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, where he created over 80 exhibitions focusing on aspects of history, ethnography, and contemporary art. He has also curated diverse contemporary and historical art exhibits at other sites, nationally and internationally. As Director of the National Jewish Museum he co-founded the Holocaust Art Restitution Project and has spent ten years researching and consulting on the issue of Nazi-plundered art.
Over 200 publications—books, articles, and catalogue essays—have included, among others: Eight Thousand Years of Georgian Art; Fixing the World: Jewish American Painters in the Twentieth Century; Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; Searching for Oneness: Mysticism in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Traditions; The Ashen Rainbow: the Arts and the Holocaust; Untangling the Tangled Web: Why the Middle East is Such a Mess; and Famous Jewish Trials: From Jesus to Jonathan Pollard.
Friday, August 16
Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies, John Carroll University
Zeki Saritoprak, Ph.D., a native of Turkey, has held the Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, since 2003. Having studied the Arabic language for several years in Cairo while researching for his dissertation in Islamic Theology, entitled The Antichrist (al-Dajjal), he has also taught and conducted research at Harran University in Turkey, Georgetown University, the Catholic University of America, and Berry College in Rome, Georgia. He is the founder and former president of the Rumi Forum for Interfaith Dialogue in Washington, DC. Author of over thirty academic articles and encyclopedia entries on topics in Islam, he has served as guest editor for issues of the journals Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Muslim World. He is editor and co-translator of Fundamentals of Rumi’s Thought: A Mevlevi Sufi Perspective (in English; New Jersey: The Light, 2004); editor of a critical edition of al-Sarakhsi’s Sifat Ashrat al-Sa’a (in Arabic; Cairo, 1993); and author of Al-Dajjal in Islamic Theology (in Turkish; Istanbul, 1992).