Betül Basaran

Global Scholar Award, SOAS, University of London - Religious Studies

Betül is Professor of Religious Studies at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Her primary area of expertise is the social, economic and legal history of the Ottoman Empire. Her scholarship has considered public order and policing in Ottoman Istanbul; marital relationships between Europeans and Ottoman women in the early modern period; the ways in which Ottoman women have been constructed in court records; and questions of social justice within Ottoman society. Betül’s current project tells a historically absent story about the life and work of Princess Niloufer, who married into the Muslim ruling dynasty in Hyderabad, the largest princely state in British India, following the abolition of the Islamic caliphate in 1924. Niloufer gained recognition as a public figure dedicated to women’s empowerment during the turbulent period that led to the partition of India, and in the context of emerging women’s rights movements. Her story becomes a case study through which Betül investigates the intertwined themes of religion, international politics, and women’s agency. It also underscores the agency of Muslim women as important role models and pioneers in world history, in contrast to the contemporary western narrative most prevalent today that reduces them to mere victims or religious extremists.