Conference Program


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Friday, May 28

Opening Remarks: 10:00 -10:30 (CEST)

Brett Wilson (Central European University, Director of CEMS)

Karolina  Kotus (Central European University)


10:30-12:00 (CEST) - Session 1: Text as an Object

Chair: Brett Wilson (Central European University)

Adélie Chevée (European University Institute), The Politics of Materiality in Syrian Revolutionary Newspapers

Nimet İpek (Sabancı University), A Room of a Reader's Own: Frame (cedvel) Making and Margin Practices in Islamic Manuscripts

Sergio Carro Martín (Pompeu Fabra University), Beyond Religious Duty: Rethinking the Islamic Certificates of Pilgrimage Through Materiality


12:00 -13:30 (CEST) - Session 2: Art, Images, and Aesthetics

Chair: Sona Grigoryan (Central European University)

Elvin A. Dağlıer (Koç University), Late Antique Mosaics in Anatolia Calling for Attention

Antrea Oratiou (University of Newcastle), Glazed Wares from Cyprus: Pots, People and Ideas

Giulia De Ponte (Università degli Studi di Firenze), A Case Study of ‘Khedivial’ Orientalism: Stefano Ussi’s The Transportation of the Mahmal to Mecca and the Shaping of Khedive Isma‛il Pasha’s Iconography of Identity and Power

Lunch Break - 13:30-14:30 (CEST)


14:30 -16:30 (CEST) - Session 3: Objects and Identity

Chair: Dana Sajdi (Boston College)

Anastasia Thamnopoulou (University of Bonn), The Materiality of Smoking. The Ottoman Tobacco Pipes of Palestine

Savannah Ulalian Bishop (Koç University), Shedding Light and Spilling Oil: Ceramic Oil Lamps as Markers of Identity and Change in the Eastern Mediterranean

Katia Arslan (Istanbul Bilgi University), Beads of Masculinities: Tespih As an Extension of Men's Selves and Bodies

Benjamin Sharkey (University of Oxford), Pilgrimage Through the Material: Experiencing Stories and Places Through an 8th-9th Century Bronze Censer in the Christian Community of Samarqand


Friday Keynote Lecture - 17:00 (CEST)

Dana Sajdi (Boston College)

Text as a Spatial Performance

While recent scholarship on materiality has produced new queries in book history and exciting revaluations of the meanings of text, it has yet to consider the text as a production in space.  In considering places in and around the text, we would be able to bring out the material, the sonic, and the corporeal to construct clearer images of past social practice and reality.

Dana Sajdi (Ph.D., Columbia University 2002) is Associate Professor of History at Boston College. She is the author of The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant (2013, Turkish and Arabic translations in 2018); editor of Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century (2008, in Turkish 2014) and co-editor of Transforming Loss into Beauty: Essays in Arabic Literature and Culture in Memory of Madga Al-Nowaihi (2008). She is the recipient of several fellowships including from Princeton University, Wissenschaftskollege zu Berlin (EUME); Research Center for Anatolian Civilization; MIT-Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture; and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is working on history of Damascus based on a local tradition of textual representations of the city between 12th-20th centuries.


Saturday, May 29

11:30 -13:30 (CEST) - Session 1: Material Exchanges

Chair: Volker Menze (Central European University)

Yunus Doğan (Bilkent University), From Danishmendid Coin to the Catalan Seal: The Material Culture of Saint George

Anitta G Kunnappilly (Mahatma Gandhi University), Indo-Mediterranean Trade in Malabar (2nd to 12th Century AD ): A Historiographic Reading

Gay Apolline (École Pratique des Hautes Études), Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph: The Function of Patriarch’s Pictures on Egyptian Garments (6th-10th Century)

Özlem Yıldız (Temple University), Multisensory Meanings of Sugar Figures in the 1582 Ottoman Imperial Festival


Lunch Break - 13:30-14:30 (CEST)


14:30 -16:30 (CEST) - Session 2: Religion, Spirituality, and Symbols

Chair: Gábor Klaniczay (Central European University)

Fermude Gülsevinç (Bilkent University), “Prisoner of the Sea, Defended by the Sea, and Punished by the Clemency of Heaven”: Christianization the Seascape of Naxos and Rhodes in the Late Antiquity (4th-7th Centuries)

Matthew R. Westermayer (Cornell University), Edenic Trees as Material and Noetic Things

Yusuf Selman İnanç (Central European University), Where Materiality Meets Spirituality: Türbe Rituals in Contemporary Turkey

Raluca Prelipceanu (Babeș-Bolyai University), Angelic Representations from Immateriality to Materiality


16:45 - 18:15 (CEST) - Session 3: Objects on the Move

Chair: Charlie Barber (Princeton University)

Nikita Bogachev (Central European University), The Adventures of the Hand: The Cult of Relics in Byzantium Around 1000

Lavinia Gambini (University of Cambridge), Sacred Christian Artefacts in the Greek Archipelago, ca. 1650–1700

Stefano Saracino (University of Jena), The Material Culture of Halle Pietists in the Ottoman Empire in the Ottoman Empire on the Eve of the 18th century


Saturday Keynote Lecture - 18:30 (CEST)

Charlie Barber (Princeton University)

Formlessness and Potentiality: Reflections on Art and Materiality in Fourteenth-Century Byzantium

The first part of this paper will offer some readings of the definitions and use of Matter in a variety of writings, primarily from the early-fourteenth century. Formlessness, Potentiality, and Harmonics will be discussed as aspects of Materiality. Works by George Pachymeres and Theodore Metochites will be a particular focus. The second part of the paper will propose a reading of the use of marble in Metochites’ church of the Holy Savior in Chora. I will argue that the display of marble in the church was more than a demonstration of material resources. Its presence speaks to the very identity of the monastery.

Charlie Barber is the Donald Drew Egbert Professor of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. Barber’s area of specialization is the history of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art, with a particular focus on the history and theory of the icon. He has also worked extensively on Byzantine aesthetics and intellectual history and with Byzantine manuscripts. He has written and co-edited a number of books. These include two studies of the contested status of the icon in Byzantium: Figure and Likeness: On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm (2002) and Contesting the Logic of Painting: Art and Understanding in Eleventh-Century Byzantium (2007). Current and future research will lead to books that examine the status of the icon in the 14th and 16th centuries. In addition to presenting papers at numerous domestic and international conferences and symposia, Barber has co-organized several interdisciplinary workshops on Byzantine intellectual history. These have resulted in such publications as Reading Michael Psellos (2006), Medieval Greek Commentaries on the Nicomachean Ethics (2009), and Michael Psellos on Literature and Art: A Byzantine Perspective on Aesthetics (2017).

Concluding Remarks by the Organizers - 19:30-20:00