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Principal Investigator

Abdurrahman Atçıl


Abdurrahman Atçıl is an associate professor of history at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2010. Before joining Sabancı University in 2020, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Law School and as an assistant professor at Queens College of the City University of New York, and as an assistant professor and associate professor at Istanbul Şehir University.


In terms of research, Dr. Atçıl is particularly interested in questions of law, religion, and politics in the early modern Ottoman Empire. His first book, Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, details Muslim scholars’ transition from independent and cosmopolitan actors to scholar-bureaucrats. His other published work is devoted to addressing issues such as the Ottoman–Safavid conflict, scholarly mobility, and theology and philosophy in the Islamic legal tradition.


Dr. Atçıl is currently working on two projects: The first, carried out under a Career Development Grant funded by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, uses social-network-analysis technologies to examine the professional and intellectual networks of over 750 high-level Ottoman scholar-bureaucrats in the period 1470–1650. The second, carried out under a Consolidator Grant funded by the European Research Council, investigates the formation of law in the Ottoman Empire between 1450 and 1650. Examining the religio-legal opinions (fetva) of scholars and decrees of sultans (kanun), it aspires to develop a model of lawmaking that will account for diversity and change in early-modern societies.

Senior Researchers

Ayşe Ozil

Ayşe Ozil is an Associate Professor of History at the Faculty of Arts and Social
Sciences at Sabancı University. After receiving a BA in Political Science and
International Relations and an MA in History, both from Boğaziçi University, she
completed her PhD at the University of London, Birkbeck College. Before joining
Sabancı University, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University and a
visiting researcher at Leiden University. Dr. Ozil works on the social history of the late Ottoman Empire with a focus on ethno-religious community making, social networks, and questions of modernization. She is the author of Orthodox Christians in the Late Ottoman Empire: A Study of Communal Relations in Anatolia (Routledge, 2013), which offers a critical reappraisal of the millet system. She has also published on modern institutionalization, concentrating on law, urbanization, and education. Her current work explores communal legal corporate status, the history of lower social strata in the Tarlabaşı neighbourhood of Istanbul, and the modernization of commercial buildings (han) in the Galata port in the late Ottoman period.

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Gürzat Kami


Gürzat Kami received a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Boğaziçi University (2012),  and a master’s degree from the Department of History at Istanbul Şehir University (2015). His research focuses on the scholarly life in the central Arab lands during the Mamluk-Ottoman transition period. He earned his PhD from the Department of History at Marmara University (2023), with his thesis entitled Damascene Scholars in the Mamluk-Ottoman Transition: History of Three Generations of the Ghazzi Family (1450-1650). His research interests include scholarly networks and mobility, the history of education and curriculum in Ottoman lands during the early modern period, and the application methods and tools of social network analysis in historical studies.

Tommaso Stefini


Tommaso Stefini is a social and economic historian of the early modern Ottoman Empire. His research focuses on Ottoman/European political and commercial relations, comparative history of Islamic and European legal and economic institutions, and Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations in the pre-modern Mediterranean. He holds a PhD from Yale University (2021) and he was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence between 2021 and 2023. He recently joined the ERC-sponsored project OTTOLEGAL, The Making of Ottoman Law: The Agency and Interaction of Diverse Groups in Lawmaking, 1450–1650, hosted by Sabancı University, as a postdoctoral fellow. His research has appeared in American, Turkish, French, and Italian journals and he is currently revising his book manuscript titled Ordering Difference: Justice and Cross-cultural trade between Istanbul and Venice in the Seventeenth Century.

Translator and Editor

Jeff Turner

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Jeff Turner joined OTTOLEGAL in 2021 as an English editor and translator. Prior to that, he worked for a number of years as an editor at Istanbul Şehir University, and before that as an instructor at the Ankara University Faculty of Theology. He holds degrees in philosophy, international relations, and religion. As a researcher, he has a broad range of interests in the humanities and social sciences, particular in the fields of language, religion, and history.

M.a. and Ph.D. Researchers

Abdullah Karaarslan


Abdullah Karaarslan was born in Denizli in 1988. He received his BA from the Department of History at Istanbul Şehir University in 2016 and his MA from the same university in 2019 with a thesis entitled “Diverging Career Paths and Social Networks: A Cohort of the Students with Literary Talent in the Sahn Madrasas in the Sixteenth Century.” His research interests include early modern Ottoman scholars and historical social network analysis.

Bersun Turna

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Bersun Turna was born in Istanbul in 1997. He graduated from Boğaziçi University in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics. He is currently a master’s student in History at Sabancı University. He speaks English, German, Arabic, and French. He has been a researcher at the OTTOLEGAL project since October 2021.

Bünyamin Punar


Born in Gaziantep in 1989, Bünyamin Punar received his bachelor’s degree from Fatih University in 2012. He obtained his master’s degree from Istanbul Şehir University in 2015 with a thesis entitled “Kanun and Sharia: Ottoman Land Law in Şeyhülislam Fatwas from the Kanunname of Budin to the Kanunname-i Cedid.” He has taught history classes at the University of Turkish Aeronautical Association for two years and is currently doing doctoral research at Istanbul 29 Mayıs University. His research focuses on the fields of Ottoman institutional history and history of law. Punar worked for the OTTOLEGAL project as a researcher between 2021 and 2022.

Fatih Doğan


Fatih Doğan was born in Istanbul in 1997. He graduated from the Istanbul Şehir University Faculty of Islamic Studies in 2020. Doğan completed his MA with a thesis entitled "Lawmaking in an Ottoman Frontier Province at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century: The Mufti of Akkirman, His Fatwas and Authority" in 2022 in History Department at the Sabancı University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and is a currently PhD student in the same department. He speaks English and Arabic and his main interest areas are Islamic history, particularly law, religion, and ulama in the early modern Ottoman Empire. He has worked as a researcher for the OTTOLEGAL project since October 2020.

Furkan Yalçınkaya


Born in Istanbul in 1999, Furkan Yalçınkaya obtained his bachelor’s degree in History from Ibn Haldun University in 2023. The same year, he enrolled in the History master’s program at Sabancı University. Since October 2023, he has been a researcher at the OTTOLEGAL project. His academic interests include law, religion, and scholarly bureaucratic interactions in the early modern Ottoman Empire. He speaks Arabic and English.

İrem Gündüz-Polat


İrem graduated from Boğaziçi University’s History Department in 2012. She then went on to obtain her MA from the same university in 2016 with her thesis “Küçük Ayasofya and the Foundation of Babüssade Ağası Hüseyin Ağa.” During this time, she also studied at SUNY Binghamton’s Art History Department as an exchange student and worked at SOAS, London, as a temporary research assistant. İrem is currently a PhD candidate in History at Marmara University and works as a research assistant at Sakarya University. Before starting her dissertation, she studied in Paris at EHESS-CETOBaC in 2018 as a visiting young scholar. Her research interests include waqfs and socio-cultural networks in the early Ottoman world, urban, architectural, visual culture in Anatolia and the Balkans (1200–1500), and Islamic history. 

Mustafa Acun


Mustafa Acun was born in Nazilli in 1997. He graduated from the Boğaziçi University Department of History in 2021. He is currently a master’s student in History at the Sabancı University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. His main areas of interest are early modern Ottoman legal and religious thought and political philosophy. He has been a researcher at the OTTOLEGAL project since October 2021.

Şeyma Nur Temel


Şeyma Nur Temel completed her undergraduate education at the Marmara University Faculty of Theology in 2014. In 2017, she graduated from the MA program at Istanbul Şehir University with her thesis titled “The Legitimacy of the Ottoman Dynasty in Müneccı̇mbaşı Ahmed Dede’s Camı̇u’d-Duvel.” She is currently a PhD candidate at the Sabancı University History Department. She speaks Arabic and English, and her academic interests include Ottoman religious foundations, Ottoman historiography, and the formation and implementation of Ottoman law. She has worked as a researcher for the OTTOLEGAL project since July 2020.

Administrative and Technical Staff

Hümeyra Bostan-Berber (Project Coordinator)


Hümeyra Bostan-Berber received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, Empire State College, in Cultural Studies. She completed her MA in the History Department of Istanbul Şehir University with a thesis entitled “Institutionalizing Justice in a Distant Province: Ottoman Judicial Reform in Yemen (1872–1918)” in 2013. She received a joint PhD from the History Departments of Istanbul Şehir University and the École Pratique des Hautes Études with a thesis entitled “Defending the Ottoman Capital against the Russian Threat: Late Eighteenth-Century Fortifications of Istanbul” in 2020. She was a visiting researcher at Georgetown University in 2016.

Dr. Bostan is an assistant professor at Marmara University and a co-editor of the Marmara University Journal of Turkology. Dr. Bostan has worked as the OTTOLEGAL project’s coordinator since September 2020. She spent the 2021–22 academic year as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge Faculty of History and Research Associate at Wolfson College.

Salih Günaydın (Data Analyst and Software Developer)


After graduating from KU Leuven (Belgium) with an MA in electrotechnical engineering in 2006, Salih Günaydın worked for several years as a software engineering consultant, providing services for clients in the telecommunications and semiconductor industries in Belgium and the Netherlands. Later, in pursuit of higher education in the Islamic sciences, he obtained an MA in Islamic theology at Marmara University (2013) with a thesis on the philosophical discussions around the concepts of space and the void in the thought of one of the most influential classical Asharite thinkers, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1210). He began his academic career as a research assistant at Istanbul Şehir University, where he taught undergraduate courses on Islamic creed, theology, history of philosophy, Sufism, and other subjects, while simultaneously pursuing his PhD at Istanbul 29 Mayıs University. Beside his work for the OTTOLEGAL project, where he provides solutions for the entire data lifecycle, from acquisition and storage to exploration and analysis, he is currently working with Abdurrahman Atçıl and others to establish a digital collaborative research platform, the “ISAM Ulama Database,” at the Center for Islamic Studies (ISAM) in Istanbul, the goal of which is to integrate the vast corpus of Islamic historical biographical dictionaries into the semantic web.

Osman Baş

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Osman Baş is a specialist at the Manuscript Institution of Turkey and a PhD candidate in the Philosophy and Religious Studies program at Marmara University. His main research interests are legal and political philosophy and manuscript cultures.

Zübeyir Nişancı

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