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SOAS professor historical consultant for BBC’s ‘The Ottomans’

9 October 2013

Benjamin Fortna, Professor in the History of the Middle East at SOAS, University of London served as an historical consultant for the BBC Two series ‘The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Emperors’.

This major three-part series presented by journalist Rageh Omaar traces the 600-year-old story of the Ottoman Empire that encompassed European, Arab and North African lands, and only came to an end in the past century.

Professor Fortna, whose areas of research include the history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East, advised on the overall conception of the series and commented on the script for the third episode in which he will also appear.

He said: "I was pleased to contribute to this series which highlights connections between the Ottoman past and today's world.  One can agree or disagree about the ways in which history is best conveyed on television - there is a tendency to go for maximum effect, using footage with lots of costumes and scoring it with dramatic music - but there is no doubting the Ottoman Empire's relevance to our understanding the Balkans, Turkey and the Arab world today.  This is particularly important in the UK where the national curriculum writes off whole swathes of Islamic and, indeed, Ottoman history."  

Professor Fortna is author of Learning to Read in the late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic (Palgrave Macmillan 2010) and Imperial Classroom. Islam, Education and the State in Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford University Press 2002).

The three-part series will be aired on BBC Two from 6 October until 20 October and is also available on BBC iPlayer.