The Bartlett School of Architecture


Field as Archive / Archive as Field: Architectural insights from contemporary Turkey

19 May 2017, 9:00 am–6:00 pm

Archive book stacks – Hrair Sarkissian's series ‘istory’ (2011)

This symposium aims to open a discussion on the ways in which architectural researchers’ experiences during fieldwork and/or archival work shape architectural history and theory, with a specific focus here on recent and ongoing research in Turkey.

Event Information

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Professor Murray Fraser, Dr Eray Çaylı, Pınar Aykaç, Sevcan Ercan


Room 1.02, The Bartlett, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H OQB

Architectural researchers often encounter unforeseeable issues while working in archives or fields. How might they make these issues into the very stuff of the histories and theories they produce? The symposium explores this question through specific reflections and insights from Turkey, a context that over the past few decades has seen the sort of social and political fluctuations that amplify the unpredictability of fieldwork and archival work. It consists of a series of invited papers that discuss the following:

  • changes in the positionality of the researcher
  • dynamics between intellectual autonomy and social debt to interlocutors
  • consent, constraint, surveillance, accessibility issues, and (self-)censorship
  • use and abuse of archives and other source material
  • psychological and ethical implications
  • narrative forms, structures and styles through which the above might be written into architectural histories and theories

While discussions on the above-mentioned topics are prevalent across various other disciplines – such as anthropology, geography, and archaeology – architectural history and theory tend to gloss over them. This symposium, therefore, aims to create a platform for the exchange of scholarly tactics and strategies that help work through challenges of architectural research generally.

A nuanced awareness of the challenges faced during spatially oriented archival research or fieldwork in an increasingly socially and politically volatile global context, we hope, will benefit not just those interested in the architecture of Turkey – or indeed in architectural history and theory per se – but also those operating in other settings or spatial disciplines marked by challenges to public space and critical thought.

This symposium is funded by the Architecture Research Fund, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

Image credit: from contemporary artist Hrair Sarkissian’s series istory (2011), courtesy of the artist.