Prof. Ipek Türeli has been awarded a Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC, Quebec Fund for Research, Society and Culture) grant in the amount of $39,600 (over three years). She will research the topic of “Building Architectural Networks: American Missionary Schools in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
North American Protestant missionaries have profoundly shaped American and Canadian perceptions of the "non-West" -- and vice versa. Yet today little is known about their pioneering efforts overseas in providing modern social services and institutions. U.S.-based missionaries established hundreds of schools in the Ottoman Empire from the mid-nineteenth century on. Several of these, such as today's Bogazici University in Istanbul and the American University in Beirut, offered secular education in spectacular campus settings. These schools, which remain influential within the region, were funded by North American benefactors and designed by well-known North American architects, such as Alfred D. Hamlin, George B. Post and Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, but they were also necessarily built from local materials, by local craftsmen and workers. What role did architecture play in the context of missionary encounters? This project studies the spatial forms their educational activity took on. It considers buildings as 'moving objects' which start at the level of idea, or proposal, and continue to move after they are built, enabling a flexible and open platform for dynamic participation and action. It proposes to look at missionary schools not only as environments of (formal, passive) learning but of knowledge production about other cultures. The FQRSC-funded first part of the research, which will focus on the earliest of these overseas college campuses, Robert College of Istanbul (1863) and its sister school, Constantinople College for Girls (1871), represents a first step toward the larger research goal to analyse the network of missionary schools in the Ottoman Empire.