EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 25 Okt 2023 | 17:00–18:30

Inheriting Anatolia: Representation, Knowledge Production and Imagination

Çiçek İlengiz (Postdoctoral Researcher ERC BEYONDREST), Chair: Shoghig Elke Hartmann (Freie Universität Berlin).

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

“To be honest, I first visited the Pergamon Museum in Berlin before visiting the actual site […] although I grew up so close to the city.”[1] On the backdrop of ongoing scholarly debates on restitution, this talk revisits the notions of preservation and inheritance through the ancient site of Pergamon that is situated in Turkey’s Aegean region. As the quote reveals, Pergamon is a site where invisibility meets hypervisibility. The Pergamon Museum in Berlin was built in 1899, following the transportation of the Zeus Altar from Bergama to Germany. Although Turkey has been left out of scholarly production on restitution due to its imperial history, the vivid debates on the Altar’s possible return have been occupying the local, national and international cultural arena since the 1990s. With the inclusion of Pergamon and its multi-layered cultural landscape into the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2014, the debate on the Altar has started to be shaped around “who owns what belongs to everybody.” Through discussions on the Altar’s rightful ownership, its case became a venue for reinforcing civilizational narratives onto the politics of heritage. Based on the preliminary ethnographic work conducted in Bergama, the talk examines how discourses on preservation of cultural heritage are operationalized by different heritage actors. It argues that the paradigm of preservation reinforces the politics of dispossession in multiple ways while simultaneously creating obstacles in the processes of inheriting the past.
[1] Quote from the interview conducted with a visual artist in Izmir, September 2023.

Çiçek İlengiz works at the intersection of memory studies, politics of emotions, and critical heritage studies. In 2019, she completed her PhD at the Research Center for History of Emotions, hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. In 2023, she joined the ERC-funded project BEYONDREST with her research on inheritance in the field of cultural heritage entitled Inheriting Anatolia: Representation, Knowledge Production and Imagination. Her recent publications have engaged with the conceptual discussions on inheritance, temporality and mourning in the fields of memory and heritage. She is currently revising her book manuscript for publication, tentatively titled TheHealing-Injury: Revolutionary Mourning in Post Genocidal Turkey. Combining ethnographic research with oral histories and archival documentation, the book offers a critical assessment of the logics of rational politics, the framework of which has been drawn by military, racial, and secular regimes of power.

Elke Shoghig Hartmann is a historian and Islamic studies scholar specializing in Ottoman history. She is the head of the Institute for Ottoman Studies and Turkology at the Freie Universität Berlin, where she also received her PhD. Her research focuses on Ottoman history in the 19th and 20th centuries with an emphasis on modernization, military history and cultural and technical adaptation processes. Hartmann's work also interrogates the making of minorities, nation and state making, collective violence and genocide, memory and historiography, autobiographical documents, Ottoman and Russian entanglements and trans-Ottoman mobilities. She is the editor of the forthcoming volume "Ottoman Armenians. Life, Culture, Society (vol. 2)".

This seminar is part of the conversation series Restitution and its Vantage Points: Beyond the Preservation Paradigm of the BEYONDREST Research Group.


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