- What’s On
The British Institute at Ankara hosts and archives a diverse series of seminars. See below for events past, present and future.
Forthcoming online events are The Ottoman-Italian War of 1911-12: Conflict and Consequences, a lecture by Benjamin Fortna of the University of Arizona, and The Second Shift in Archaeological Fieldwork? Invisible Labour of Local Archaeologists as Fixers to Foreign Projects, an Anatolian Studies virtual seminar with Yağmur Heffron (University College London).
The Ottoman-Italian War of 1911-12 (October 26) (Book here)
Benjamin Fortna reflects on the conesequences of the Ottoman–Italian War in North Africa of 1911–12 for the Ottoman Empire and the wider Islamic world. Although the Ottomans had to abandon the fight against the Italians due to the Balkan Wars, the “Trablusgarb War” had consequences that reached well beyond the relatively short duration of the conflict.
The Second Shift in Archaeological Fieldwork? (November 4) (Book here)
Archaeological excavations in the Middle East typically rely on hiring local labour. Histories of managing this labour are increasingly bringing the practices of early excavators under scrutiny. In this paper, Yağmur Heffron considers a different category of local archaeological labour, particularly common in Turkey, which is performed by trained archaeologists or archaeology students in training. In addition to their ordinary tasks as team members, local archaeologists and/or students routinely act as interpreters and intermediaries helping foreign projects run effectively in an unfamiliar cultural landscape. The service they provide is vital yet seldom recognised as a job in its own right, and often uncompensated despite the considerable mental load and time deficit it generates. Where local archaeologists are regularly called upon to facilitate the research and training needs of their non-local counterparts, pre-existing inequalities between the two groups are amplified. In order to better understand the dynamics involved, Heffron propose borrowing the term “fixer” from journalism, where we find a comparable relationship between local and foreign colleagues. In the absence of such a term in archaeology, the assistance required from local archaeologists to help transcend cultural and linguistic barriers becomes additional, uncompensated labour. Here, she proposes borrowing yet more terms, this time from feminism, to account for the considerable “double burden” of local archaeologists as they regularly undertake a “second shift” on top of their professional duties. Looking outside archaeology for key concepts to illustrate implicit imbalances in workload will be a useful first step towards a structured examination of labour relationships between local and non-local archaeologists working on foreign projects in Turkey.
Talks this year have included Ergün Laflı (of Dokuz Eylül University) and Maurizio Buora (of the Società Friuliana di Archeologia, on Frankish gravestones at Ephesus), and Gizem Tongo on the fascinating artist Mihri Hanım. Born in Istanbul in 1885, Mihri was one of the most technically accomplished portraitists of her time, producing vivid and richly coloured portraits of individuals both within and beyond her elite circle that suggest her often female sitters’ agency. Having been instrumental in the foundation of the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul (1914), she also served as its first woman director and a painting instructor during the First World War and the Armistice Period. See Cornucopia No 59, ‘Thoroughly Modern Mihri’, by James Leptien.