Monday, August 27, 2012

Facutly Spotlight: Dr. Mehmet Dosemeci

We are pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Mehmet Dosemeci to our full-time faculty here in the Department of History! Dr. Dosemeci joins us from the Big Apple, where he recently finished his Ph.D. at Columbia University. 

We asked Dr. Dosemeci to tell us a little about himself so that we could all get to know him better. 

1. Why did you decide to become an historian?

Because of Walter Benjamin.  It's true.

2. If you weren't a history professor, what would you be?

A tugboat captain.

3. Tell us a little bit about your educational background. Why did you chose the particular institutions you went to?

I went to Berkeley for university and got my Ph.D. from Columbia.  The reasons?  Well, pretty random, actually.  Was visiting campuses as a high school senior eating a burrito on the steps of some building in Berkeley when two guys get on top of buckets and start putting on a one act play about Darwinism, science, and religion.  The play was horrible. But then, this homeless lady on a bike shows up - carrying a red vampire lunch box - and starts circling around the two guys screaming, "Dracula is the only true god! We shall all worship Dracula! Buy Dracula merchandise and you shall be free!"  I took one look at my parents and said,"I'm going here."  Columbia was easy.  Great school, I was 21, and wanted to live in New York. 

Dr. Dosemeci and his daughter, Willow

4. Where did you live before you moved here to Pittsburgh? What do you miss most about that place?

Well, we've been moving around a lot.  Since 2008 we've lived a year each in New York; Florence, Italy; Cambridge, MA (which was awful); and Brunswick, Maine.  Except for Cambridge, I've liked them all.  Most of all I will miss the different types of "Mehmet" each one let me become. 

5. What about Pittsburgh excites you? Is there something you've found that you really love about it here so far?

People here seem really happy.  I'm serious.  Which is a lot different from the headless chickens that run around New York.  

6. What one book would you recommend to every history student?

I have two.  One super short, the other super long.  Neither of them are in my field. 
Roll Jordan Roll by Eugene Genovese and
The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a SixteenthCentury Miller by Carlo Ginzburg.  Both are amazing reads - high on theory without advertising the fact.  

7. The classic dinner question: Name up to 5 people you would like to have dinner with (living or deceased, real or fictitious), and what would be on the menu?

1) Raskolnikov
2) Angela Davis
3) Rosa Luxemburg
4) and why not, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

My father's cooking and there's a lot of Raki.

8. What is your favorite historical period or moment?

The seven months between the February 1917 Revolution and the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia.

9. What historical moment have you experienced in your lifetime that has had the most profound impact on you?

The Arab Spring and the Occupy movements of 2011.  I, and a lot of other people, needed that.  We were all beginning to lose our political imaginations.   

Dr. Dosemeci and his daughter, Willow, at the 2011 Occupy protests in NYC.

10. If you could create and teach any course on history, what would that course be?

It's called the History of Radical Democracy and I'm teaching it next spring.  (Shameless, I know.)