EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 13 Apr 2022 | 17:00–18:30

“Importance of Little Things”: The Origins, Past Uses and Actors of the Robert College Natural History Museum from Empire to Nation-state

Nurçin İleri (EUME Fellow 2020-22), Chair: Semih Çelik (University of Exeter)

Online event via ZOOM

This talk explores the history of the Robert College’s Natural History Museum in Istanbul which consisted of the natural objects of botany, zoology, and geology that spanned geological eras, political entities, nations, and cultures from the 1860s to the 1940s. This study is an attempt to re-establish the lost connections—the origins, past uses, and actors—about the college museum which does not physically exist today and whose scientific collections and archival sources have been scattered across different institutions and cities. The college museum reflected many diverse collecting practices and multilateral contacts among American educators and students; scientific and non-scientific actors, such as diplomats and merchants; and domestic and international tourists. It functioned as a productive scientific and cultural space to explore and understand how scientific knowledge was constructed, reproduced, and disseminated through the interaction of transregional human and non-human actors. İleri seeks ways to locate the Robert College Natural History Museum in both local and global circles of natural history and natural sciences.

Nurçin İleri is a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in 2020-22, associated with the IGK Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History (re:work) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her dissertation focused on the social and material geographies of night in late Ottoman Istanbul. Her dissertation research has led to several publications in peer-reviewed journals including Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Etudes balkaniques, and New Perspectives on Turkey. She taught courses at Binghamton, Boğaziçi and Işık Universities (2008-2018). She worked as the assistant coordinator of the Boğaziçi University Archives and Documentation Center, where she conducted a project entitled “Histories of Science, Culture and Education in Istanbul Through Personal Archives” and was involved in curating and writing material for on-site and online exhibitions (2015-2018). She continues to work on urban history, the history of science and technology, and archival and cultural heritage studies in the late Ottoman Empire and Turkey. She is also one of the editors of the two blog series “Factory Reloaded” (published in 2021) and “Envisioning Work: The Visual Cultures of Labor” (forthcoming) on TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research.

Please register in advance via eume(at) to receive the login details. 
Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via Soundcloud.

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