This panel is organized to bring together museum curators and scholars to comment on the recent discussions on repatriation and restitution as a form of reparation to colonized and looted lands.
While museums in Europe and North America have occasionally returned objects to their native communities or lands of arrival, the issue of repatriation gained an accelerated epistemological and ethical momentum at the end of 2018. What is the responsibility of museums to objects taken into their collections by violence or deceit during the colonial times or wars? What is the role of museum-object-repatriation in the recognition of colonial and military violence? What are the legal structures that prohibit or allow deaccession in the museums of different countries? Once the objects are parted from their communities and no longer serve their original sacred functions, where are they to be returned? What determines how far back museums consider repatriation claims legitimate and why? What is the future of “universal museums” around the world?"
Speakers will each make a 15-minute presentation, commenting on the contemporary debates from the perspectives of their own work and study area. A question and answer session will follow the presentations.
Souleymane Bachir Diagne | Columbia University | New York
Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a professor in the departments of French and Philosophy and the Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University. His most recent books are African art as philosophy. Senghor, Bergson, and the idea of Negritude, Seagull Books, 2011; The Ink of the Scholars. Reflections on Philosophy in Africa, Dakar, Codesria, 2016 ; Open to Reason. Muslim philosophers in conversation with Western tradition, New York, Columbia University Press, 2018 ; Postcolonial Bergson, Fordham University Press, New York, 2019 ; In Search of Africa(s). Universalism and Decolonial Thought, (with Jean-Loup Amselle), Polity Press, 2020. Professor Diagne is an associate member of the Royal Academy of Belgium and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Jonathan Fine | Humboldt Forum | Berlin
Cécile Fromont | Yale University | New Haven
Jonathan Fine is Head (Museumsleiter) of the Ethnologisches Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, a post he has held since January 2020. Before assuming this position, he was the curator for the collections from West Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, and Namibia, and he was speaker of the museum’s working group on provenance research. Jonathan received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, where he focused on royal art from western Cameroon in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is a member of the German Museums’ Association working group on collections from colonial contexts and an author of the Association’s Guidelines on the Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts.
Cécile Fromont is an art historian at Yale University, and currently a 2020-2021 fellow at the Paris Institute for Advanced Studies. Her writings explore the circulation of people, objects, motifs, and ideas between Africa, Europe, and the Americas between 1500 and 1800. A central concern of her research and teaching is to outline the long shadow that the early modern period has cast over our own times. She is the author of The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo (2014) and the editor of Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas: Performance, Representation, and the Making of Black Atlantic Tradition (2019). Her latest essay “Paper, Ink, Vodun, and the Inquisition: Tracing Power, Slavery, and Witchcraft in the Early Modern Portuguese Atlantic” appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion in 2020.
Esra Akcan, Michael A. McCarthy Professor, Department of Architecture, Director, Institute for European Studies at the Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell University
This panel was organized to bring together architects and planners to comment on the ongoing reconstructions in Beirut after the deadly explosion of August 4, 2020, by contextualizing it in the city’s urban development and the relatively recent urban reconstruction of its center after the civil war.
How, when, and by whom should the reconstruction projects be designed and implemented? What are lessons learned from the reconstruction of the city center after the civil war? With the looming danger of opportunistic gentrification, how might the reconstruction process alter the area’s use and the lives and livelihoods of its residents? How may it affect Beirut’s place in the world cultural heritage and global imagination? How can international organizations and academic institutions partner with local organizations for the redesign/rebuilding of the destroyed neighborhoods? How should the different affected neighborhoods be approached when it comes to redesign/rebuilding?
Elie Haddad | Lebanese American University
Elie Haddad is a Professor of Architecture at the Lebanese American University, where he has been teaching since 1994. He has been serving as dean of the School of Architecture & Design, since 2012. Between 2009 and 2015, he received several fellowships to conduct research on modern architecture in Germany. Among his publications is the architectural survey titled A Critical History of Contemporary Architecture, published by Ashgate in 2014, which he co-edited with David Rifkind. He also published two books on architecture and urbanism, both in Arabic, in 2014. In addition to his academic work, Haddad is a frequent contributor to the local An-Nahar newspaper, with essays on architecture, urbanism, and cultural issues in general.
Mona Harb | American University of Beirut
Mona Harb is Professor of Urban Studies and Politics, and research director of the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut. She received her PhD in Political Science in 2005 from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques at Aix-Marseille (France). She is the author of Le Hezbollah à Beyrouth (1985-2005): de la banlieue à la ville (Karthala-IFPO, 2010), co-author of Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi'ite South Beirut (Princeton University Press, 2013, with Lara Deeb,), co-editor of Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World (LCPS, 2015, with Sami Atallah), and co-editor of Refugees as City-Makers (AUB, 2018, with Mona Fawaz, Ahmad Gharbieh and Dounia Salamé), in addition to numerous journal articles, book chapters, and other publications. Her ongoing research investigates the public domain and urban vacancies, local governance and displacement, as well as urban activism and oppositional politics.
Mostafa Minawi | Cornell University
Elie Boutros | Cornell Alumni
Dana Muhsen | Cornell Alumni
This panel was organized to bring together scholars and analysts to comment on the recent conversion of the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque from the perspective of architectural history in geopolitical context.
What is the building’s significance for Byzantine, early and late Ottoman, Republican and contemporary Turkish architecture? How will the Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque in 2020 impact its use, global and local public meaning, place in the city and nearby monuments, physical attributes, Byzantine mosaics, Christian and Muslim symbols, marble floor, and acoustics, among other things? What effects did the building’s recent conversion make in different areas of historical studies? Are there comparable examples elsewhere in the world?
Speakers made 8-minute presentations in the rough chronological order of their historical field of expertise and comment on the contemporary decision from the perspectives of their own scholarly work and study area. After a discussion where speakers responded to each other, the panel concluded with a Q and A session.
Speakers are listed in the order they presented in the webinar:
Namık Erkal | TED University in Ankara
Namık Erkal had his academic degrees on architecture and history of architecture at METU. In 2004 he was awarded with George and Ilse Hanfmann post-doctorate fellowship of American Research Institute Turkey. In 2016 he took part in the curation of Pavilion of Turkey at the Venice Architectural Biennale. He has published articles on the history of architecture and urbanism of Constantinopolis/ Istanbul. His recent works focus on early modern Istanbul’s customhouses, market places and harbor buildings. After working twenty years in METU Department of Architecture he is currently the chair of Department of Architecture in TED University.
Christina Maranci | Tufts University
Christina Maranci is the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair of Armenian art and architectural history at Tufts University and Chair of the Department. She is the author of three books and around one hundred articles and essays on medieval Armenian art and architecture; including most recently an Introduction to Armenian Art (Oxford UP, 2018). Her previous monograph, (Vigilant Powers--Brepols 2015) on the seventh-century architecture of Armenia won both the Sona Aronian Prize for best Armenian studies monograph from the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) and also the Karen Gould Prize for Art History from the Medieval Academy of America. Maranci has works on issues of cultural heritage for over a decade, with a focus on the at-risk Armenian churches and monasteries in Eastern Turkey.
Maria Georgopoulou | American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Maria Georgopoulou was educated at the University of Athens, Greece, the Sorbonne, and the University of California, Los Angeles, from where she received her Ph.D. in Art History in 1992. She taught art history at Yale University (1992-2004) where she also founded the Program for Hellenic Studies. She is currently Director of the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. She has edited numerous books and articles, and has curated several exhibitions. Her scholarly work explores the artistic and cultural interactions of the Mediterranean peoples in the Middle Ages within their economic and social contex.
Sevil Enginsoy | Istanbul Bilgi University
Sevil Enginsoy Ekinci studied architecture at Middle East Technical University (BArch, 1987), and architectural history at METU (MA, 1990) and Cornell University (PhD, 2002). She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on architectural history and theory at METU, Boğaziçi University, KHAS University, TED University and İstanbul Bilgi University. Her research interests cover architectural books, architectural encounters across geographies, architectural historiography and intersections of architecture-visual arts-literature. She has presented papers at international conferences and published articles and book chapters on these topics. Presently, she is working on a book project as a collection of essays under the title of “Viewing Renaissance architecture in/from Turkey.”
Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu | Boğaziçi University
Çiğdem Kafescioğlu is professor at the Department of History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and works on the urban, architectural, and visual culture of the early modern Ottoman world. She is the author of Constantinopolis/Istanbul: Cultural Encounter, Imperial Vision, and the Construction of the Ottoman Capital (2009, winner of the Spiro Kostof Award of the Society of Architectural Historians), and co-editor, with Shirine Hamadeh, of A Companion to Early Modern Istanbul (Brill, expected 2021). She has held scholarships from the Giles Whiting Foundation, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Art and Architecture, Getty Foundation, and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard Univesity.
Bissera Pentcheva | Stanford University
Bissera V. Pentcheva's innovative work in acoustics, art, and music has redefined the field of Byzantine architecture. She has published three books with Pennsylvania State University Press: Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium, 2006 (received the Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America, 2010), The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium, 2010, and Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space and Spirit in Byzantium, 2017 (received the 2018 American Academy of Religion Award in excellence in historical studies). Her work is informed by phenomenology, placing the attention on the changing appearance of objects and architectural spaces. She relies on film to capture this temporal animation stirred by candlelight. Another important strand of her work engages the sonic envelope of the visual--music and acoustics--and employs auralizations that digitally imprint the performance of chant with the acoustic signature of the specific interior for which it was composed. Her current book project explores animation in Western Medieval Art.
Belgin Turan | Middle East Technical University
Belgin Turan Özkaya is a professor of architectural history in the Department of Architecture at Middle East Technical University, whose research focuses on intertwined cultures and architectures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Holding a B.Arch. and a M.Sc. in Restoration from METU and a Ph.D. in History of Architecture and Urbanism from Cornell University, she had visiting positions at Harvard University, Koç University and Canadian Centre for Architecture. Among her numerous publications are the co-edited volumes, Rethinking Architectural Historiography (nominated for the RIBA Sir Nikolaus Pevsner International Book Award), Transpositions on the Edge of Europe: Ambivalence and Difference in Architecture and Ambivalent Architectures from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic. She is currently finishing her book, Itinerant Objects: British Museum and the Ottoman Response to Antiquity.
Peter Christensen | Co-Moderator, University of Rochester
Nikos Magouliotis | ETH Zurich
Peter Christensen is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. His specialization is modern architectural and environmental history, particularly of Germany, Central Europe and the Middle East. He is the author of the book, Germany and the Ottoman Railway Network: Art, Empire, and Infrastructure (Yale University Press, 2017), winner of the 2020 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award from the Society of Architectural Historians for the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of the built environment by a North American scholar and the forthcoming book Materialized: German Steel in Global Ecology (Penn State Press, 2022).
Nikos Magouliotis is currently a PhD candidate at ETH Zurich, in the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), at the Chair of Prof. Maarten Delbeke. His doctoral research focuses on the historiography of the Vernacular and Byzantine architecture of Greece, from the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries, as it manifested itself in the field of architectural theory and practice, as well as parallel discourses within archaeology and ethnography. His writings have appeared in Cartha magazine, San Rocco, ARCH+, Future Anterior, EAHN's Architectural Histories et al.
Esra Akcan | Co-Moderator, Cornell University
Esra Akcan is Michael McCarthy Professor in the Department of Architecture and the Director of European Studies at the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. Her research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia, and offers new ways to understand architecture’s role in global, social and environmental justice. She is the author of Landfill Istanbul; Architecture in Translation; Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (withS.Bozdoğan); Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg; Building in Exile. Her upcoming books are Abolish Human Bans and Right to Heal.
Mesut Dinler | Politecnico di Torino
Mesut Dinler is an assistant professor in The Inter-university Department of Regional & Urban Studies and Planning in Politecnico di Torino, where he received his PhD in Architectural and Landscape Heritage Program. He was involved in various international conservation projects including projects managed by Historic Charleston Foundation with US/ICOMOS, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Currently he is involved in the management of heritage-related research projects funded by the European Commission under its Horizon program. His current research interests include heritage-related activist movements, politics of urban heritage, history of historic preservation and digital humanities.
Mücahit Bilici | City University of New York
Mucahit Bilici is Associate Professor of Sociology at John Jay College and CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Finding Mecca in America: How Islam Is Becoming an American Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2012). His research interests include American Islam, Muslim diasporas including Kurds in the US, Kurdish identity and Turkish society. Among his numerous Turkish publications is "Hamal Kurt: Turk Islami ve Kurt Sorunu" [Kurd the Porter: Turkish Islam and the Kurdish Question] (Istanbul: Avesta Publishers, 2017). Bilici is a faculty fellow at the CUNY Dispute Resolution Center and a frequent commentator and public speaker on Kurdish and Muslim issues in the contemporary Middle East.
Bülent Batuman | Bilkent University
Bülent Batuman is Associate Professor of Architecture in the Department of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at Bilkent University in Ankara. His work focuses on the politics of the built environment. He is the author of New Islamist Architecture and Urbanism: Negotiating Nation and Islam through Built Environment in Turkey (2018) and editor of Cities and Islamisms: On the Politics and Production of the Built Environment (forthcoming).
Funding is provided by the Central New York Humanities Corridor, as part of the multi-year event series "New Approaches to Scholarship and Pedagogy of Ottoman and Turkish Architecture" organized by Esra Akcan (Cornell University) and Peter Christensen (University of Rochester).