Between Loss and Recovery: Cross-Confessional Health Culture in Ottoman Bosnia

Between Loss and Recovery: Cross-Confessional Health Culture in Ottoman Bosnia

April 14, 2021

10:00AM – 11:00AM (PST)

 Dr. Amila Buturovic, Professor, Department of Humanities, University of York

This event is hosted by the UBC Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster and co-sponsored by the CENES Department, the UBC Institute for European Studies, and the UBC Centre for Migration Studies.

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Abstract: This study focuses on medical pluralism in Ottoman Bosnia through its confessional differences, medical theories, and curative practices. Given that medical knowledge circulated inter-regionally, between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, as well as intra-regionally, among Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jews, the study sheds light on how premodern Bosnians negotiated their lives between local and trans-local values and systems of knowledge. A broader aim is to recalibrate the understanding of this historical period by focusing on the examples of cultural intimacy and cross-confessional dynamics drawn along the ideas and practices of healing. Primary sources include material and non-material culture, written multi-lingual sources that include treatises on medicine and religious healing; talismanic texts and amulets; herbalist and pharmaceutical manuals; and archival records that reflect the interactive and cross-confessional spirit of healing in Ottoman Bosnia. Steeped in the region’s cultural history, the study also seeks to counteract the current political climate that systematically endangers cultural intimacy through ethnic divisions, exclusivist discourse, and the legacy of the 1992-1995 genocide. Turning to a premodern past is not only a process of writing history but an act of rewriting the past and the recovery of memory which the present has targeted for destruction.

Bio: Amila Buturovic is a Professor at the Department of Humanities at the University of York. Her research interests span the intersections of religion and culture, primarily in the context of Islamic societies. Her latest book concerned the spaces and culture of death in Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing on the questions of continuity and discontinuity in eschatological sensibilities, epigraphic texts, and commemorative practices in Bosnian cultural history. Currently, she is doing research on the culture of health in Ottoman Bosnia, investigating mainstream and alternative healers and healing practices and focusing on the interconfessional transmission of medical theories and manuals, amulets and talismanic practices, and herbalism.