Book Signing and Talk | The Ottomans: A Cultural Legacy by Diana Darke

Yunus Emre Institute London, in collaboration with Thames & Hudson, is thrilled to host a talk and book signing by Diana Darke, on her fascinating book, The Ottomans: A Cultural Legacy, on Thursday 17th November 2022 at 7 pm.

The event moderated by noted author Tharik Hussain will start with a talk by the author and the Middle East Cultural Expert Diana Darke and will be followed by a Q&A session and book signing. In this talk, Diana Darke will explore the artistic, cultural, religious, and political history of the Ottoman Empire and take the audience on an intriguing journey in her fascinating book.


The Ottomans: A Cultural Legacy is a beautifully illustrated book with manuscripts, miniatures, paintings and photographs in which the author not only reveals interesting facts about the Ottoman Empire but also celebrates its culture, from its aesthetics to its scientific and medical achievements.

The book positions itself in a completely different place among the thousands of publications written about the Ottoman Empire, by stating that ‘’A hundred years after the abolition of the Ottoman sultanate on November 1, 1922, enough time has passed to re-examine the Ottomans and reassess their legacy’’. In addition, it explores the unique achievements the Ottomans made in architecture, cuisine, music, science, and medicine while facing political challenges. The Ottoman Empire faced issues shared by modern European and Middle Eastern countries: how to maintain a balance between religious ideology and secular politics and how to promote fairness and equality among citizens in a multicultural society.


The Ottomans understood how to harness the talents of their diverse populations. Their dynamism and resilience helped fuse the cultures of Asia, Europe, and Africa, from the Himalayas to the Sahara, absorbing whatever impressed them, from Mongol armour to Persian tile work. Alongside their essential rigour, they enjoyed the finer aspects of life: in music, cuisine, and art, unafraid, even as rugged fighters, to display their love of flowers and gardens, especially tulips and roses. Behind the fine robes, carpets, and ceramics on display today in their great architectural monuments like Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace Museum, lie centuries of migration, trade, and struggle. In this original and beautifully illustrated book, a radically new picture of the Ottoman Empire is revealed.

This exclusive talk is an opportunity not to be missed for those who are interested discovering more of the cultural legacy of the Ottoman Empire and its profound impact on Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.


 About the Author:

Diana Darke is a Middle East cultural expert with special focus on Syria.  With degrees in Arabic from Oxford University, and in Islamic Art & Architecture from SOAS, London, she has spent over 35 years specialising in the region, working for both government and commercial sectors. Among her publications are the highly acclaimed My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis (2016), The Merchant of Syria (2018) and The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo (2019). Her book Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture shaped Europe (2020), received three Book of the Year 2020 awards. Her most recent book, The Ottomans: A Cultural Legacy, was published on 29 September 2022. Frequently invited to speak at international events and media such as the BBC, PBS, TRT, Al-Jazeera and France24, her work on Syria has been published by the BBC website, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Financial Times. She is a Non-resident Scholar at Washington’s think-tank MEI (the Middle East Institute).


 About the Moderator:

Tharik Hussain is a travel writer, journalist and author specialising in Muslim heritage and culture. His debut book, Minarets in the Mountains; A Journey into Muslim Europe, about the continent’s living Ottoman legacy was nominated for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award, the Baillie Gifford Prize in Non Fiction and has just been shortlisted for the British Guild of Travel Writer’s Adele Evans Award. It was also named a Book of the Year by the New Statesman, Prospect Magazine and the Times Literary Supplement, and a Travel Book of the Year by The Washington Post and Newsweek.

Hussain is also a guidebook author for Lonely Planet, and has written guides to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Thailand, London and Britain; for the latter he wrote the very first mini guide to exploring Muslim Britain. He has developed Britain’s very first Muslim heritage trails in Woking, Surrey; produced award-winning radio for the BBC World Service on America’s earliest mosques, and been published by the likes of the BBC, The Times, National Geographic Traveller, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and The Sunday Telegraph. Hussain is also a fellow at the Centre for Religion and Heritage at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

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