Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture
Displaced Modernities: The Ottoman Empire, Turkey and the Specter of Armenian Builders

The Ottoman Empire's accelerated modernity project in the late nineteenth century transformed the condition of builders, buildings and households through conflicting institutional reforms and discriminatory politics. My dissertation confronts this contested modernity process in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman world, by looking at practices of Armenian architects and builders during the transformation from the empire to the nation-state. By discussing cosmopolitanism, minority labour and nationalization of the architectural narrative at the turn of the century, I aim to show that the history of modernism and modern architecture in Turkey needs to be written as a history of migrations and displacements. This project articulates the theme of displacement in various forms, including but not limited to the displacement of citizens, architects and their practices, the displacement of property rights following the law of confiscation for Armenian properties, and the displacement of architectural programs following the restoration, preservation and destruction practices concerning the Armenian built heritage after the Ottoman Empire. The denial of violence against Armenians in Turkey and the discussions on global justice and transcultural dialogue trigger this project's aim to confront the erasure of the multi-ethnic heritage by the nation-state. It is inspired by the questions of who the forgotten Armenian architects and builders of the late Ottoman Empire are, why and how their works have been appropriated by Turkish citizens, architects and historians, how the property rights influence the way we discuss the history of architecture in Turkey, and how an architectural historian can integrate the voices of the citizens, migrants, and diaspora into the history of a displaced modernity. My dissertation, following these questions, will provide an intertwined history of builders, citizens and migrants accross geographies, going beyond the borders of nation-states.