Özgür Dikmen | Summer 2022 Language Training in Spanish

I write to express my gratitude for the Kratter Endowment support of my intensive language training during Summer 2022. I am a second-year Ph.D. student in Jewish history at Stanford University. I focus on the Jewish communal structures in the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire. Ladino, the language spoken by the Jews in the Ottoman Empire, is a central component in my research and today learning Spanish is the best way to have a command of Ladino. 

In my Ph.D. project, I focus on how Jewish financiers, who lived in the nineteenth-century Ottoman realm, particularly in Istanbul, transformed into modern bankers and took part in the financialization of the Ottoman economy. I argue that such a transformation had a serious impact on the birth of the idea of communal reform which also reflects certain patterns of interaction between Ottoman and European Jewish communal elites. My dissertation research will explore multiple-faceted dimensions of this communal interaction. To study that landscape of change and interactions a good command of Ladino stands as a must.

I have been studying Spanish since early June 2022. Up until now, I have taken 110 hours of intensive Spanish courses from a native-speaker Spanish tutor and plan to continue further for another month and a half. As of early September 2022, I have completed the two-third of my summer training process and it already helped me phenomenally for establishing a connection with the primary Ladino material that I work with. Thanks to the intensive language training, I can now read Ladino newspaper articles and short stories from the mid-nineteenth century. This will immensely help me engage with the Jewish political and intellectual landscape in the long nineteenth century in the Ottoman lands whose considerable parts remained unexplored.