Strategic Research Initiatives

Focusing on Turkey as a crossroads and as a distinctive creative and cultural hub in a global and neighbourhood perspective, the BIAA is funding research under a set of Strategic Research Initiatives (SRIs) that reflect current trends in the international and UK academic communities within the fields of Archaeology Related Disciplines, Cultural Heritage Management, History and the Social and Political Sciences. 

The current SRI’s of the British institute at Ankara are:

  1. Cultural heritage, society and economy in Turkey 
  2. Migration, minorities and regional identities 
  3. Interconnections of peace and conflict: culture, politics institutions in national, regional and international perspectives
  4. Anglo-Turkish relations in the twentieth century
  5. Climate, changes and the environment​
  6. Habitat and Settlement in prehistoric, historical and contemporary perspectives
  7. Legacy data: using the past for the future

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1. Cultural heritage, society and economy in Turkey

The promotion, management and regulation of cultural heritage is a complex process involving many different agents and stake-holders on a local, national and international level. This is a critical area of public policy involving a range of actors that include international organizations, government ministries and agencies, political parties, business organizations, museums and local communities. How cultural heritage is produced, interpreted and understood can have profound impact on social and economic activity and decision-making. It influences the formation of social values and ideas as well as notions of common identity and history, and also affects economic and infrastructural management. The importance of Cultural Heritage Management has only become an issue recently in Turkey and is now rapidly developing. New issues and problems have emerged, for which solutions have to be found within Turkey, but also on a much wider scale. This strategic research initiative sets out to examine the inter-relationships in the field of cultural heritage in the Turkish context.

2. Migration, minorities and regional identities

Turkey and the Black Sea region are located between different geographical regions such as the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Their location perforce constituted them as a physical bridge and traditionally pitted them at the crossroads between different historical forces and empires. This was as much a feature in prehistoric as in historical and in contemporary times when trans-boundary migration remains an important domestic and international concern. The interplay between these diverse historical forces and migratory patterns has been a significant factor in shaping the countries domestic and social make-up over time. It played an important role in forming cultural identities whether at individual, regional, national or supra-national level. Simultaneously, these processes in relation to migrant communities have also influenced the neighbouring areas around Turkey and the Black Sea region. This SRI aims to promote research interests across different academic disciplines that relate to the themes of migration in Turkey and the Black Sea Coast region.

3. Interconnections of peace and conflict: culture, politics institutions in national, regional and international perspectives

Turkey, located next to Armenia, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Iran and Russia, lies at the heart of processes of both peace and conflict. There are similar processes within Turkey itself (the product of internal political cleavages and boundaries, the role of religion or ethnicity as engine for polarization or contact). Both regionally and domestically, there are opportunities for research on these issues that can help the better understanding of the historical background of such processes of peace and conflict, and offer a mapping of similarities and differences across the different states and societies involved in them. This SRI promotes the interdisciplinary collaboration across history, social anthropology, sociology, political science, conflict resolution/transformation studies, securitisation and international relations studies, in order to approach the themes of peace and conflict in the region from a broad perspective. The SRI aims at identifying best practice procedures which have produced positive results in the past (for example, the shift of the Greek-Turkish relation from a protracted conflict to the scale of manageable disputes), and bringing this understanding to bear on other confrontational pairings. The SRI’s wider objective is a positive spill-over of the results of academic research across policy making and the promotion of peace and stability in the region.

4. Anglo-Turkish relations in the twentieth century

Pioneering a new research agenda on the history of UK-Turkey relations, the BIAA introduced this SRI in 2015 in combination with the conducting of a major research project entitled ‘Turkey and Britain 1914-1952: from enemies to allies’ that will run till 2018. The SRI aims at building on this project to create an active and sustainable network of scholars from Turkey, the UK and other countries that will promote diverse approaches to the study of the early Turkish republic, especially its foreign policy, its relationship with Britain, and its place in the world order. Research and funding administered under this SRI will support diversity and collaboration across different historiographical traditions (diplomatic and military history, oral and micro-history, etc.) aiming at the unearthing and access of a full range of archival and other source material from the UK, Turkey and elsewhere. The SRI’s objective is to promote the exploration of new themes significant for the understanding of bilateral relations in the past, as well as their development in the present and future.

5. Climate, changes and the environment

As environmental issues becoming an increasingly acute concern for countries worldwide, Turkey is a country of prime interest in the field of climate studies. Due to its location, it presents an area ripe for exploring and understanding climate development and the history of global environmental change within the context of contemporary international relations. Lake sediments, tree-rings, speleothems and peat deposits represent valuable natural ‘archives’ of environmental change which have been under-explored in both Turkey and the wider Black Sea region. This research programme into the vegetation and climate history of the region focuses on changes in vegetation, water resources, landscape stability and hazards in Turkey, the Black Sea area and much of the wider Middle East over time. It also provides a key context of interaction concerning human use of the landscape from prehistory to the present day.

6. Habitat and Settlement in prehistoric, historical and contemporary perspectives

Anatolia has one of the best-defined long-term records of settlement during the Holocene and its study is central to a range of questions from changing relationships with the environment, to the formation of large-scale settlements and the changing of urban-rural relationships. Developments in the Black Sea coastal region sometimes ran parallel to changes in Turkey, but followed a different course at other periods, creating interesting comparisons, parallels and alternatives. Of particular interest are mankind’s attempts to live in as well as adapt to and change conditions set by the environment throughout time as well as the effect of human beings on their natural environment and landscape. Research focused on assessing long-term change from prehistory to the present day is supported.

7. Legacy data; using the past for the future

Legacy data present an immensely rich and varied body of largely unstudied information that allow present-day scientists and researchers to further our understanding of Turkey and the Black Sea region. These historical collections, including paper archives, photographic archives and archaeological collections, offer insights in the evolution of the topic/material under study or information on now lost assets. The BIAA owns collections of squeezes and ceramic sherds as well as large photographical collections and archives that offer excellent study material for a wide range of disciplines, ranging from archaeologists over historians, anthropologists and specialists in epigraphy and ethnology. This SRI aims to promote interdisciplinary academic research that relates to legacy data concentrating on Turkey and the Black Sea Coast region. Work on the BIAA collections will be an important option, but applications for research on other legacy data, proving how important they are for our understanding of the theme, is equally welcome.


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