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Anthropology Colloquium: Zeynep Gursel

Friday, October 4, 2019 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

McGraw Hall, 215
740-750 University Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Portraits of Unbelonging: Photography, the Ottoman State and the making of Armenian Emigrants


How has photography policed borders and differences?  How do photography and statecraft intersect in the making and unmaking of citizens?  Portraits of Unbelonging is a double-sided history of migration, examining one of the first uses of photographs to police borders.  It studies the history of Ottoman Armenian emigration from the Ottoman east to the United States from the politically fraught and often violent 1890s to the end of Abdülhamid II's reign in 1909.


Like each individual terk-i tabiiyet photograph, the official document used in the renunciation of Ottoman nationality for emigration, the project faces two directions; it links an Ottoman past to an American future.  Portraits of Unbelonging traces the stories of emigrant families over a century – from the bureaucratic files that unmade Ottoman subjects, to the ship manifests that tracked their migration routes, to the census and naturalization records that documented their new lives as immigrants then citizens in the United States, to the family albums of their descendants living today.  It is a history of mass migration on an intimate scale.


Dr. Zeynep Devrim Gürsel is a media anthropologist and Associate Professor in the department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She is the author of Image Brokers: Visualizing World News in the Age of Digital Circulation (2016), an ethnography of the international photojournalism industry at the beginning of the 21st century. She is also the director of Coffee Futures, an award-winning ethnographic film that explores contemporary Turkish politics through the prism of the everyday practice of coffee fortune-telling. She has published in Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist,Visual Anthropology, Grey Room, Anthropology Now and Jadaliyya and has contributed chapters to volumes on global news and journalism, contemporary public spheres, photography and memory, and visual cultures of nongovernmental activism.


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Liz Kirk

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Zeynep Gursel

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Rutgers University

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there will be a receiption after the talk.

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free and open to the public.

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