Events - Part 28

posted by mh on 2006/11/28 14:10

[ Events ]

Next Monday (Dec 4) at ARIT (Istanbul-Arnavutkoy), 6:30 PM, Amy Singer (Tel Aviv) will deliver a lecture on Ottoman imarets, and will, more concretely, argue why she believes that the habitual understanding of this institution as soup kitchens for the poor is questionable. As apparently no other website has this information online, the full text of the announcement is reproduced here (click "more" below). ---

Free Lunches and Philanthropy in the Ottoman Empire


Imarets (public kitchens) were a common feature of endowed mosque
complexes in the Ottoman Empire. With their impressive domes and chimneys, these
buildings traced unmistakable shapes in the Ottoman skyline, symbolizing sources
of sustenance and beneficent patrons. The word imaret has usually been
translated as "soup kitchen", and the available discussions generally describe
them briefly as places where students, sufi dervishes and the poor could get a
free meal. Yet upon closer investigation of endowment deeds, travelers' reports
and accounting registers, it turns out that imarets served meals to quite a
broad range of people, some of whom would not qualify as poor under any
definition. This lecture will examine just who was eating in Ottoman imarets,
and how they fit into the context of Ottoman philanthropy as practiced through
the endowment of mosque complexes. The specific case of the imarets also sheds
new light on the practices of philanthropy in Islamic societies. Was there
really such a thing as a free lunch?

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