In the Fall 2015, I came to Istanbul in order to conduct my doctoral fieldwork research on the experiences of Bosnian Hajjis from the 17th to the 20th century. The Center for Urban Studies at Istanbul Sehir University became my academic home for several months. The academic expertise and experience of Dr. Yunus Ugur and Dr. Eda Yucesoy-Unlu helped me to position my work in relation to the broader aspects of urban studies. More specifically, I was prompted to question the relation between the city and its transitory inhabitants (such as Hajjis), and to draw attention to how cultural and social contexts shape literary imaginaries of Istanbul. Weekly seminars and lectures were given by experts from Sehir University and elsewhere helped me to gain insight in new and exciting research being done in various fields of humanities. During my productive stay in Sehir University, I was also given the opportunity to present my work in April 2016 in front of the colleagues from the Center for Urban Studies. And finally, I cannot emphasize enough the value of friendships and academic connections that were forged during my research stay at Sehir University, and that continue to inspire me.
I was accepted as a visiting researcher between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2019 at the Center for Urban Studies, in 2016, I started my doctoral studies at Literary and Humanities Graduate Program of Osaka City University in Japan. I had to search the 18th century provisionalism of Istanbul and search for old documents or notebooks in Istanbul to do research on Istanbul and write my doctoral thesis. The Center for Urban Studies was very useful as an important center for researchers and experts in various fields including Ottoman history. Since they accept me as a guest researcher and they help me, I would like to thank all the teachers, especially Dr. Yunus Uğur.
Since the fall 2016, I have been a Visiting Researcher at SEHIR’s Center for Urban Studies, while completing my PhD in Anthropology from McGill University (Canada). The Center has generously provided me an office space, and this has been an extreme advantage for writing a dissertation from a quiet, yet stimulating, environment. Being hosted at the Center constitutes an ideal base from which to get connected with the research world in Turkey and envision potential future projects to start once I finish my dissertation on global poverty alleviation in summer 2018. The Directors of the Center, Dr. Yunus Uğur and Eda Yücesoy, are very attentive hosts, always providing guidance as needed. Thanks to their support, as well as the Sociology Department at SEHIR, I was able to secure a TÜBITAK scholarship for my stay during the calendar year 2018 to launch a preliminary fieldwork project on migratory realities in the urban context in Turkey. The research team of the Center is composed of a very dynamic and curious groups of research assistants who have always been incredibly welcoming to me and foreign researchers. I feel tremendously lucky to be surrounded by such kind, compelling, and supportive colleagues which make every day at the office very pleasant and productive. This coming fall semester 2018, I look forward to teaching a course at SEHIR, related to the Center’s interest, on the anthropology of infrastructure.
In 2015, I continued my field research, which is the extension of my doctoral program at the Geography Department in Vrije Universiteit, at the Center for Urban Studies as a researcher. The facility of access to resources and the exchange of ideas with teachers and other researchers in the center has played a major role in this process. I feel lucky myself to have had the chance to spend this period at the Center for Urban Studies which is the first center specifically focuses on urban research in Istanbul and Turkey.
The Center for Urban Studies at Şehir University graciously hosted me when I was a Fulbright Scholar, from 2015 to 2016. During this time, I designed and implemented an independent research study that analyzed urban renewal’s financial impacts on six low-income neighborhoods across Istanbul. I also briefly assisted the Center’s project, “Typologies and Atlas of the Ottoman Cities from 1450 to 1700” by providing data entry. I am so incredibly thankful to the Center for Urban Studies, and especially Dr. Eda Yücesoy Ünlü and Dr. Yunus Uğur, for this experience. The Center not only provided a private workspace for me – a quiet and professional space which was very important for a foreign researcher – but also treated me as a peer and part of the University’s family. The faculty was so kind to me, always asking about my research and making sure I was enjoying my entire experience in Turkey. Dr. Yunus Uğur introduced me to the Center’s research assistants, a couple of whom went on to assist me with my own work as paid research assistants. Istanbul Şehir University even allowed me to audit classes – which provided me a better understanding of historical Turkish issues, and helped me to advance my Turkish language knowledge. I felt so welcomed at the Center for Urban Studies. As a young foreign researcher, the Center helped me to begin my professional career, with both direct and indirect support. They also directly impacted my ability to complete my project. I was able to present findings from my research to various audiences including at a couple of universities, to scholars, to Turkish governmental officials, and to the U.S. Ambassador. Since leaving the Center (and Turkey), I have gone on to receive my Master’s in Urbanization and Development. My Master’s thesis reflected work I had done while in Istanbul. Currently, I work at a job where I get to design, implement, and evaluate social programs for low-income individuals in the United States. Many of the skills I use on a daily basis were acquired initially during that year in Istanbul, where I first learned to conduct independent social science research. Yardımınız için çok teşekkür ederim!
In the Center for Urban Studies at Shehir University, I am working on the project “Spatial Identity Typology of Istanbul”. The project is implemented in accordance with the 2221 – Fellowship Program for Visiting Scientists and Scientists on Sabbatical Leave (2018/2) (TUBITAK). The Center carried out projects which results influenced the informational basis of my own research. The methodology of the Center’s researchers and their points of view on the urban studies correspond to the main world trends in this field. Research programs of the Center are unique. They combine a historical and sociological approach to the urban study. The fundamental analysis of the Ottoman urban tradition, made by Dr. Yunus Ugur, helps to understand the roots of the Turkish city culture. At the same time, Dr. Eda Yücesoy Ünlü examines the current trends in the development of Istanbul. These results are important for modern urban practices. I am grateful to these researchers for their informative consultations and for the research materials they have provided me. Of special interest to me are the studies of the Center for Urban Studies which are devoted to the economic life of Istanbul, the formation of its urban environment and the specificity of everyday city life. I have gained valuable experience in the multidisciplinary study of Turkish urban culture. I have the opportunity to study the information on the development of the most dynamic city in Europe, an example of a global city. This experience will help me in my further studies of urban culture and urban identity.
In 2015, I graduated from the Department of Architecture of Yıldız Technical University where I continued master program of Physical Building As the coordinator assistant in the project “The Strategies of Conservation of Istanbul’s Social Cultural Heritage and Social Research on World Heritage Sites ” of the Center for Urban Studies where I started to work during my graduate education. As a research assistant; then, I worked in the project “Inventory, Research and Publication for Tombs, Graves in Fatih, Eyüp, Beyoğlu and Üsküdar Regions”. In this process, I had the opportunity to work with experts in various fields such as urban culture and conservation, architecture and art history. Thanks to the excellent working environment provided by the Center for Urban Studies where anyone with the slightest interest in the city can gain very important experiences for their professional life.
In 2016 fall term, I had the opportunity to be an intern at the Center for Urban Studies where I met as a second-year student at the Department of History. The Urban Studies Center facilitated me to follow the latest developments and projects in the field of urban and urban studies, and provided an efficient internship process by enabling me to gain experience in digital projects. Thanks to the experience I have gained here, I have established a background for my Master and Doctorate education by expanding my professional network abroad. The Center for Urban Studies which provides professional, academic and, more importantly, an intimate research environment, continues to open the way and horizon of many students like me with its pioneering expert staff.