Students visit Istanbul as part of Material Cultures course
 

S​tudents visit Istanbul as part of Material Cultures course



​During the field visit, students participated in tours of Istanbul, paying particular attention to the architecture and topography of the city.

From the 14th to the 19th of April a group of AKU-ISMC MA students participated in an academic excursion to Istanbul as part of their course on Material Cultures, led by faculty member Dr Stefan Weber.

During the field visit, students participated in tours of Istanbul, paying particular attention to the architecture and topography of the city. As well as seeing a variety of sites, the students also had the opportunity to participate in lectures by specialist faculty members, including a discussion on modern Turkey with Asli Odman of Istanbul Bilgi University.

The students were able to see the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Camii, the Sultan Ahmad Mosque, Hagia Sophia as well as the Dördüncü Vakf Hani and the Post Office (examples of the first national style of architecture). In addition to this, the students were visited Bogaziçi University for a campus tour and a briefing on student exchanges.

While at Bogaziçi University, the students attended a lecture by Professor Edhem Eldem on Ottoman cemeteries in Istanbul and the transformation of death culture (16th-20th centuries). Following this, students had the opportunity to partake in a tour of the Bazar/Kapali Çarsi led by Mathilde Pinon, as well as visit Valide Hani, Büyük Yeni Hani, Yeni Çarsi, Rüstem Pasha Cami and Süleimaniye Cami.



(Left to right) MA in Muslim Cultures students Shelina Jaffer, Chorshanbe Goibnazarov and Belkais Rouached.

Speaking of the tour of the Bazar, student Nadia Rehmani said, "One could imagine the whole socio-cultural and economic life that would ensue from the mosque into the bazaar and hans or caravanserai with courtyards, accommodation facilities for the foreign traders and merchants and their interactions with the locals. It would be interesting to read and conduct research on quality of life in hans, bazars etc. and how the communication and transactions took place and the literature that might have been generated. Some glimpses of such research being conducted on the grand bazaar by Mathilde Pinon demonstrated as to the processes and modalities of conducting such research."

Students were given a guided tour on the theme of houses and families by Murat Belge, a Turkish intellectual, translator, literary critic, scholar, civil rights activist and academic. They were also able to visit Bilgi University's new campus and the Modern Art Museum Santral Istanbul.

MA student Chorshanbe Goibnazarov noted the value of such excursions stating, "I think that for the Material Cultures course, this kind of trip is useful and necessary, as one can feel the essence of the material and what kind of meaning it produces. We have read about the architecture of the Ottoman Empire in class but this trip added more to what we have read. We saw the muqarnas, arches, shapes of the buildings and domes and realized the difference between styles and forms from 16th to 17th centuries and 18th to 19th centuries…. The lecture that we took with Dr Sibel Bozdogan gave us some ideas about the national and republican views about Ottoman buildings and the difference between Turkish, Arabic and Persian styles of decoration and construction."

This visit to Istanbul is one of a number of excursions held throughout the academic year for the Material Cultures course. These valuable experiences make theories learnt in the classroom visible, touchable, and part of students' personal experience, as they learn more about the histories and cultures of Muslims.

Further Reading*

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* Developed by the MIT School of Architecture and Planning with The Aga Khan Trust for Culture​, the goal of ArchNet is to create a community of architects, planners, educators, and students. The community can help each other by sharing expertise, local experience, resources, and dialogue. ArchNet hopes to tap that knowledge and provide a mechanism by which these valuable tools can be disseminated.​