MAY 16-17, 2016


Maria Bashshur Abunnasr
"Another Amherst on the site of Ancient Berytus?: The New England Landscape of Ras Beirut, 1870-1920"

The presence of a New England college landscape in Beirut came about with the founding there of the Syrian Protestant College (SPC) by American Protestant missionaries in 1870. Choosing the still rural promontory of Ras Beirut, the western most extension of the city of Beirut, to distance their college from the perceived dangers of the city, these missionaries modeled themselves after the founders of the earliest Anglo-American colleges across the landscape of New England. This paper starts by examining how the SPC, renamed the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1920, represents a material link between New England and Ras Beirut through its spatial configuration and its built landscape. Moreover, the SPC’s first half century saw its architecture, in particular, evolve in meaning and representation as it shifted from hard-edged authoritarianism towards a spirit of greater inclusivity. SPC's physical and spatial growth gradually fostered the concomitant shape of the urban landscape of Ras Beirut, unwittingly bringing the city to the college.

Maria Bashshur Abunnasr is a historian whose fields of study are Modern Middle East History, 19th century United States History, and Public History. In her dissertation "The Making of Ras Beirut: A Landscape of Memory for Narratives of Exceptionalism," Abunnasr analyzes how architecture embodies a complex and transnational exchange of memory. More broadly, she focuses on the relationship between the Syrian Protestant College (SPC, today the American University of Beirut, AUB) and its neighborhood of Ras Beirut to explain how narratives and memory converge around the making of place, community, and the urban landscape. She is currently working with AUB’s Neighborhood Initiative where she has led several projects, such as: The Ras Beirut Oral History Project, to be published in the Fall of 2016; A Photographic Exhibition: AUB and Ras Beirut in Photographs over 150 years, opening May 2016; and Mapping the Imprint of AUB on the Streets of Ras Beirut, scheduled for September 2016. 

Tassos Anastassiadis
"From civilizing mission to the capitalist market? Buildings, timetables and French-Italian competition in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1880s-1920s"

The history of the growth of French and other imperial educational networks in the Eastern Mediterranean during the late 19th c. has often been understood in terms of the ideological model of the imperial “civilizing mission”. The question remains though whether imperial ideology can remain independent once an educational market emerges empowering all types of actors thanks to the possibility of choice. How do bottom-up demand and top-down offer meet and what do they produce? This will be examined through the French-Italian competition in the Eastern Mediterranean about big buildings, large curricula and huge comparisons.

Tassos Anastassiadis is Assistant Professor of History and Phrixos Papachristidis Chair in Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian studies at McGill University. He is agrégé d’histoire and holds a PhD in History from Sciences-Po in Paris. Prior to joining McGill University, he taught at the EHESS, the EPHE and Sciences-Po in Paris and was a membre scientifique (postdoctoral fellow) of the French School in Archaeology, Classical and Modern Greek Studies in Athens. He has co-edited two volumes (here and here) on inter-religious relations in the Eastern Mediterranean at the Age of Empires and Nationalism and another one (here) on state formation and transitions to Modernity. His work on transcultural educational actors and the emergence of a transnational educational field in the region is supported by the FQRSC and the French School at Athens. He is member of the Research group on Transitions and Global Modernities of the Yan P. Lin Center.

Geoffrey Carr
"Colonial Modernities and the Indian Residential Schools: Surveying the Legacies of Religious Instruction in Government Institutions"

This paper argues that the design of the Indian Residential Schools provided a key means to not only disseminate religious thought but also entrench a form of colonial modernity endorsed by the federal government. Today, the legacy of this educational system is measured by personal accounts of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, yet the broader function of these institutions---to uproot the social, economic, and religious lives of Indigenous communities---receives scant attention. The paper attends to this knowledge deficit by exploring how the residential school served as a critical instrument in the efforts of churches and government to remake every aspect of Indigenous life.

Dr. Geoffrey Carr is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of the Fraser Valley. His research examines the largely overlooked architectural history of the Indian Residential School system in Canada, as well as the problems of preserving and commemorating these difficult places. He also is interested in issues related to memorialization, heritage preservation, state apology, and discourses of social reconciliation. He currently is working on a book about the architectural designs of the residential schools.

Zeynep Çelik
"In the Centre of the World?: Robert College of Istanbul"

As featured on a map of the Middle East in a missionary publication around 1900, Robert College of Istanbul was considered the focus of all missionary educational institutions in the region. Yet, in Istanbul it was only one among many other schools, with fierce competition from government-sponsored establishments of secondary and higher education—a fact that deeply concerned the founders of the College, especially in light of the Ottoman penchant toward French language and culture. This paper will situate Robert College (together with its sister school, the American College for Girls) within the educational landscape of the late-Ottoman Istanbul, examining the student profiles and the curricula. In addition, I will chart the contribution of the two schools to the image of the city, considering their siting and architecture in reference to the other new institutions, among them the Imperial High School, Galatasaray Mekteb-i Sultanisi.

Zeynep Çelik (B. Arch. Istanbul Technical University; M. Arch. Rice University; PhD. University of California, Berkeley; Doctor Honoris Causa, Boğaziçi University, 2013) is distinguished professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Federated Department of History at the NJIT and Rutgers-Newark. Her publications include The Remaking of Istanbul: Portrait of an Ottoman City in the Nineteenth Century (1986—winner of the Institute of Turkish Studies Book Award, 1987), Displaying the Orient: Architecture of Islam at Nineteenth Century World’s Fairs (1992), Urban Forms and Colonial Confrontations: Algiers under French Rule (1997), Empire, Architecture, and the City: French-Ottoman Encounters, 1830-1914 (2008—winner of the Society of Architectural Historians Spiro Kostof Book Award, 2010), as well as co-edited volumes and articles on cross-cultural topics. She served as the editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (2000-2003). She co-curated “Walls of Algiers,” an exhibition at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (May-October 2009), “Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in Ottoman Empire, 1753-1914,” Salt, Istanbul (November 2011-March 2012), and "Camera Ottomana: Photography and Modernity in the Ottoman Empire," RCAC, Istanbul (April 2015-August 2015). Her new book, About Antiquities: Politics of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire will come out in September 2016. Professor Çelik has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2004), American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (1992, 2004, and 2011), National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2012), and the Vehbi Koç Award (2014).

Benjamin Fortna
"Educational Change in the Late Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Periods: Histories, Spaces, and Texts"

This keynote lecture will address several of the important changes in the political, historical, spatial, temporal, and economic aspects of the educational effort undertaken by the late Ottoman state and its successor in Republican Turkey.   Drawing on research into the expansion of reading in both the domains of the state and the private sector, it attempts to show how larger forces at work during this time of turbulent change affected the passage from the imperial to the post-imperial.

Benjamin Fortna is a historian of the Middle East, particularly focusing on the late-Ottoman and early modern Turkish periods. He has published several books on education in the Ottoman Empire and in addition to a theoretical analysis of education he tries to focus on the experiences of the students within schools. His influential book, Imperial Classroom: Islam, Education and the State in the Late-Ottoman Empire, includes a chapter on the architecture of schools in the Late-Ottoman Empire.  His most recent research has focused on the life of a late Ottoman special operations officer and is due to be published this summer as The Circassian: A Life of Eşref Bey, Late Ottoman Insurgent and Special Agent.

Dale Gyure 
"The Transformation of the Schoolhouse: Modernizing School Architecture in the 19th and 20th Centuries"

School buildings as a type have been works in progress since the mid-nineteenth century, consistently evolving, through the interaction of educators and architects, in an effort to make structures that not only enclose but also enhance the educational processes occurring between their walls. They have changed from a simple collection of similar rooms with few amenities to complex, differentiated modern school plants wherein almost every design decision is impacted by its effect on pedagogy and learning. This paper will examine on how school buildings were transformed over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by organizational and curricular reforms in educational systems, increased societal emphases on the health and hygiene of school-aged children, and education's changing role in modern society. It will discuss how the architecture of secondary education differed from that of primary education and the manner in which transformations in the United States related to parallel currents elsewhere.

Dale Gyure fills a void in the architectural and educational records by examining the physical structures where formal education happens and by drawing connections between school architecture and educational reform. His book, The Chicago Schoolhouse, centers on an analysis of Chicago school buildings at the high school level. His work illuminates nationwide developments and explains how we have arrived at the current state of school architecture. His work enables transnational comparisons among American efforts in the US and abroad at school design.

Zeynep Kezer 
"On the Periphery of the Nation: Early Republican Schools in Elazığ"

In 1924, Turkey’s leaders introduced radical reforms to centralize and standardize the country’s here-to-fore variegated educational landscape. They shut down schools pertaining to the Ottoman Empire’s myriad ethno-religious communities, American and European missionary organizations, and even secular institutions established by their reformist predecessors, all of which, they considered anathema to their goals of building a homogeneous unitary nation. In this paper, using the case of Elazığ, a remote province in Eastern Anatolia, I argue that while the new curriculum was intended to shore up the neophyte Turkish state, instilling shared collective values and allegiances in future generations, in effect it revealed the shortcomings of the nationalist ideology and state capacity. As sites where differences between Kurds and Turks crystallized, rather than fostering unity, Elazığ’s new republican schools helped produce new divisions and social hierarchies that still challenge the state’s existence today.

Zeynep Kezer is an architectural historian with a specialization in modern architectural and urban history and nation-building process. In her recently published book Building Modern Turkey: State, Space and Ideology in the Early Republic (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) Kezer explores the making of citizens via architectural projects in the early Republican era, and in particular, through the national network of government schools. Her recent article "Spatializing Difference: The Making of an Internal Border in Early Republican Elaziğ, Turkey," which appeared in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians focuses on the spatiality of borders and the effect of the physical environment on different social groups. Her presentation at the symposium will examine the connection of government schools and the missionary schools they replaced in their missionary zeal to make Turkish citizens out of disparate ethnic groups.

Rebecca Rogers
"Changing Representations of North African Educational Spaces for Girls: Decoding the French Civilizing Mission"

This paper will explore both written and iconographic sources that represent educational spaces for indigenous girls established by the French. It will focus in particular on material produced for universal and colonial exhibitions from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1930s that describe for international visitors as well as metropolitan France what the French sought to achieve through their educational initiatives. In line with the conference theme, it will analyze how school spaces and practices changed over time as an initial concern to achieve the "fusion of the races" gave way to the belief in the need to adapt girls' education to local indigenous needs. This led to a focus on professional training to the detriment of school learning and particularly lessons in the French language.

Rebecca Rogers is a historian of education whose work focuses on girls' education. She has written about the role of gender in colonial educational systems in Algeria, looking mainly at French, and British sources.

Zeynep Türkyılmaz
"‘Absorb them within Turkishness’: Residential schooling and Republican solution to the Dersim Question (1937-1957)"

In the 1930s, Turkish officials solidified a plan to give an end to what they called “perennial Dersim Question.” The solution also labeled as “internal colonization” comprised of two consecutive and interdependent phases of military operation and civilizing mission.  Civilizing mission would begin with the establishment of “law and order” in Dersim and be followed up by intensive schooling. Using extensive archival and ethnographic data, drawing on the scholarship on settler colonialism and genocidal education, this paper challenges the faux dichotomies of military operation versus schooling, destructive versus affectionate state, extermination versus welfare of the natives, and demonstrates that republican schooling policy for Dersim was integral to the genocidal solution. Beyond the scale of destruction unmatched in its history, it was the coterminous residential schooling policies that epitomized, revealed and operationalized the republican intent and will to undo Dersim as a social space, annihilate the undesirable elements and absorb the redeemable ones within the Turkish culture.

Türkyılmaz received her Ph.D. from the Department of History at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009.  Her dissertation, "Anxieties of Conversion: Missionaries, State and Heterodox Communities in the Late Ottoman Empire," is based on intensive research conducted in Ottoman, British, and several American missionary archives. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral at UNC-Chapel Hill between 2009-2010 and Europe in the Middle East/ The Middle East in Europe Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin between 2010-2011. She worked as an Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College between 2011 and 2016. She is currently working on her book project based on her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests include state-formation, gender, nationalism, religion and education with a focus on non- conforming communities in the Middle East from 1800 to the present.

Sibel Zandi-Sayek
"A Town-Gown Partnership: The International College of Smyrna from Late Ottoman to Republican Years"

The International College of Smyrna—established in 1879 as a small boys’ school in rented, inner-city premises—grew to become a prestigious collegiate institute, boasting by 1913 its own, purpose-built suburban campus. Surviving the turbulent transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic, the College operated under the new regime until 1934, when increased government restrictions and local protests against its being a foreign institution, eventually forced it to relocate to Beirut. While the College’s educational mission as an American Board institution has garnered attention, its rich and manifold associations with the local community and its physical settings remain understudied. Necessarily dependent on the presence of local social and material infrastructure to function as an educational enterprise, the College also initiated a number of urban improvements throughout its fitful history, and acted as a safe haven during periods of turmoil. This paper investigates this synergetic, albeit at times strained, relationship between the College and the physical, social and political geography within which it operated during its half-century existence in Smyrna.

Sibel Zandi-Sayek, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the College of William and Mary, holds professional degrees in architecture and city planning from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching focuses on comparative and transnational histories of modern architecture and planning, and the material dimension of cross-cultural exchange. She is the author of Ottoman Izmir: The Rise of a Cosmopolitan Port, 1840-1880 (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), which won the M. Fuat Köprülü award for best book in Ottoman and Turkish Studies. Her published work includes articles on the cosmopolitan geographies of the Eastern Mediterranean; the modernization of urban space in the Middle East and North Africa; and the politics of space and identity in the late Ottoman Empire. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, and the Fulbright Institute for International Education. Her current project investigates the history of nineteenth-century industrialization through entrepreneurial networks forged by architects, engineers and investors in Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire.