Grants Program

Research Grantees 2017-2018

Heath W. Lowry Distinguished Dissertation Writing Fellowship
Noah Amir Arjomand
Columbia University

"Behind the Bylines: Fixing World News in Turkey"

The Heath W. Lowry fellowship will help me to finish writing my dissertation in the next year. My research focuses on the role of "fixers,” who assist foreign journalists with everything from interpretation to logistics to contacts, in the production of world news about Turkey. I am interested in how fixers are able and unable to shape the news they contribute to, and how they manage their positions as intermediaries and the perceptions that both foreign clients and local sources have of them. I conducted interview- and participant-observation-based research in Turkey between 2014 and 2016, as the relationship between the Turkish state and the foreign press grew increasingly confrontational. In this context, fixers have needed to be strategic in how they present themselves to suspicious interlocutors, match journalists with sources and conduct simultaneous interpretation, and offer editorial input. Fixers’ strategic behavior, I argue, influences the news in important ways ordinarily invisible to audiences, and so a close examination of their role and perspective offers lessons for how we read the news and how we understand processes of transcultural knowledge production more generally.
Dissertation Writing Grants
Alexander Schweig
University of Arizona

"Tracking Technology Transfer: Techno-Social Agency Along the Ottoman Anatolian Railroad, 1890-1914"

Alex Schweig is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Arizona. He will use his 2017-2018 ITS Dissertation Writing Grant toward the goal of completing his dissertation this academic year. Titled "Tracking Technology Transfer: Techno-Social Agency Along the Ottoman Anatolian Railroad, 1890-1914," Alex's dissertation uses the construction and early operation of the Anatolian Railroad to examine the social history of technology in the late Ottoman Empire. Specifically, the dissertation looks at responses and adaptations to the railroad across a broad cross-section of the population of northwestern Anatolia, in order to expand the focus of railroad-driven modernization beyond the actions of the Ottoman state or European actors. It argues, instead, that local people were partial agents of their own modernization, which was formed dialectically between locals and outside actors. As a history of technology "from below" it addresses understudied topics within Ottoman and Middle Eastern history.
Henry Shapiro
Princeton University

"The Great Armenian Flight: The Celali Revolts and the Rise of Western Armenian Society"

Henry R. Shapiro is a historian of the Early Modern Near East, with a particular interest in the Ottoman and Safavid Empires. His thesis—based on primary source research with Ottoman Turkish archival documents, Armenian narrative sources, and unpublished manuscripts in both Armenian and Armeno-Turkish—is entitled, "The Great Armenian Flight: The Celali Revolts and the Rise of Western Armenian Society." During the 2017-2018 academic year, Henry will be completing his doctoral thesis, funded with a generous dissertation writing grant from the Institute of Turkish Studies (ITS). He is grateful to the Institute for supporting him during his last year of doctoral work, thus allowing him to devote his full attention to writing and editing.
Benjamin Smuin
University of California San Diego

"Speaking to the State: Petitions, Citizenship, and the Legacies of Ottoman Reform in Aleppo, 1868-1936"

Benjamin Smuin is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, San Diego and currently serves on the board of the Syrian Studies Association. His dissertation focuses on the development and practice of citizenship and nationality in Late Ottoman Aleppo and analyzes how this development contributed to individual and collective attempts to navigate the transition from empire to nation state after the end of World War I through an analysis of petitions as political and social discourse. With support from the US Student Fulbright Program, he conducted doctoral research at the Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi from 2015-16, and has spent considerable time in British, French, and the League of Nations Archives. Thanks to the generous support of the Institute of Turkish Studies, he will be able to focus on the writing and completion of his dissertation during the 2017-2018 academic year.
Bennett Sherry
University of Pittsburgh

"Refugees, Rights, Restrictions: Human Rights and the Evolution of the UNHCR in Turkey, 1960-1994"

Bennett Sherry is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh. With the support of a Dissertation Writing Grant from the Institute of Turkish Studies, he will complete his dissertation, "Refugees, Rights, Restrictions: Human Rights and the Evolution of the UNHCR in Turkey, 1960-1994" during the 2017-18 Academic Year. His work connects the international human rights movement with the global expansion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This dissertation investigates how the UNHCR used human rights critiques as a tool to pressure the Turkish government and expand its operations in Ankara, growing form a three-person office into the UNHCR's largest country program. Bennett conducted research for this dissertation at the UNHCR archives in Geneva, state archives in Ankara and Washington, DC, and in the holdings of non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, the World Council of Churches, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees.
Pinar Tasci-Odabasi
University of Akron

"Edirne during the Balkan Wars: Urban Life and Inter-communal Relations on the Eve of the Nation-State"

Pinar Odabasi Tasci is a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Akron. Her research focuses on the late Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. She is spending 2016-2017 academic year as a Fulbright-Hays Fellow in Turkey to complete her dissertation research on Edirne during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. With the help of ITS Dissertation Writing Grant, she will complete her dissertation titled, "Edirne during the Balkan Wars: Urban Life and Inter-communal Relations on the Eve of the Nation-State." Edirne was once an imperial capital and is currently situated near the intersection of the borders between modern-day Turkey and its neighbors, Greece, and Bulgaria. Using this city in the western borderlands of the Ottoman Empire as a case study, her work explores urban dynamics in a period of war and transition from empire to nationstates. Her archival research is based on Ottoman state and military archives and contemporary press.

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Mark Pinson Grant for Graduate Research on the Ottoman Balkans Fellowship
Fredrick Lorenz
UCLA

"Relocating Balkan Muslims to Anatolia: Local Agency in Transforming Ottoman State Policy, 1878-1923"

Fredrick Walter Lorenz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His dissertation investigates the political and social effects of resettling Ottoman refugees from the Balkans into Anatolia and Arab provinces from 1878 to 1923. His dissertation research this summer will continue to examine how the late Ottoman Empire remodeled its state power and how resettlement policies played an intricate role in that process. The generous support from the Mark Pinson Grant for Graduate Research on the Ottoman Balkans from the Institute of Turkish Studies will provide the funding necessary to conduct extensive archival research in the St. Cyril and Methodius National Library of Bulgaria and the Republic of Bulgaria's state and regional archives in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Varna. He plans to collect a wealth of sources in Bulgaria, where he can productively benefit from primary sources composed in Bulgarian, French, Greek, Ottoman Turkish, and Serbian.

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Summer Language Study Grants
Henry Clements
Yale University

"Summer Language Study in Turkey"

I am a history Ph.D. student at Yale University. I will be using my grant money to fund an intensive six-week Ottoman Turkish program at Koç University's ANAMED Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations. There I will take courses in Ottoman Turkish, supplementary Persian, and paleography. When not in the classroom, I intend to conduct research in the Ottoman State Archives, where I will be looking at documents pertaining to the Syriac Orthodox community of the nineteenth century. My research broadly concerns the changing nature of religious difference in the late Ottoman Empire. Locally, I look at how the Syriac Christians of Anatolia and the Arab world understood the respective threats to their community posed by the Catholics and Protestants with whom they came into contact. At the imperial level, I am interested the state's relationship with a community fighting for millet recognition as the empire endeavored to forge a broad Ottoman identity.
Rebecca Clendenen
University of Illinois at Chicago

"Finding Culture in Structures of Governance"

Rebecca is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she studies Comparative and Urban Politics from cultural perspectives. She has prior degrees in International Relations and Political Science with emphases in religious politics and conflict. Her current research examines the functions of historic and cultural memory in political power. She is particularly interested in the role of cultural and historic preservation institutions in mediating changes to the physical representations of cultural and national identity. Rebecca has been studying the Turkish language at Northwestern University and the support provided by the Institute for Turkish Studies will facilitate continued language instruction in İstanbul as a necessary component of her preliminary dissertation research on Turkish cultural representations in the urban landscape of Ankara and İstanbul.
Lydia Harrington
Boston University

"Architecture, Governance, and Experience in Late Ottoman Arab Provincial Capitals"

Lydia Harrington is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University in the History of Art and Architecture Department. The ITS grant will allow her to continue her study of Ottoman Turkish at the Intensive Ottoman and Turkish Summer School in Cunda this summer. She is beginning research on her dissertation, which considers the history and design of imperial institutions in Ottoman Arab provincial capitals, specifically Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut, from the Tanzimat reform period (1839-1876) to the end of the empire in 1922. It analyzes the architecture of new and reformed institutions such as administrative buildings, government schools, vocational orphanages, and prisons, examines how they functioned as part of the Ottoman state's larger reform program, and asks to what extent their plans and styles were Ottoman, Arab, European, or a hybrid of multiple sources.
Joseph Hermiz
University of Chicago

"Syriac Christians in the Late Ottoman Empire"

I am currently a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago. My research focuses on the political and social history of the Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Joseph completed his Masters in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago in 2016, writing on the expression of Assyrian identity in the writings of Hormuzd Rassam (b. 1826 - d. 1910).

Thanks to the generous support of the Institute of Turkish Studies, I will be enrolled in the Ottoman Studies Foundation's Late Ottoman Turkish in Cunda this Summer. Knowledge of Ottoman Turkish and the ability to work with Turkish archival sources is indispensable to my research. I am interested in looking at Ottoman Fermans, telegraphs and periodicals issued in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, as they can reveal a significant amount of information on the economic, legal, and religious aspects of Assyrian life in the late Ottoman Empire.
Matthew Sharp
University of Pennsylvania

"Ottoman Connections to American and British Converts to Islam"

Matthew Sharp will begin his fourth year in Arabic and Islamic studies (NELC) at the University of Pennsylvania. His research explores networks created by late 19th and early 20th century Ottoman and Arab intellectuals with British and American converts to Islam. It is a study of transnational Muslim history from the voice and perspective of Muslims in the Middle East as they engaged with Muslims outside the dar al-Islam and the "well-protected domains" of the late Ottoman Empire. For the summer of 2017, he will be studying Ottoman Turkish at Yıldız Technical University. The intensive program will build on his existing Ottoman Turkish. With the help of the ITS Summer Language grant, he will strengthen his Ottoman and Modern Turkish and begin his preliminary research for his dissertation through the program's trips to the archives. The ITS grant is particularly important for securing necessary housing for the summer.

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