Dr Gizem Pilavcı

Dr. Gizem Pilavcı is a historian of the Ottoman Empire specialising in Armenian experience in, and impact on, Ottoman society in the late modern period. She recently completed her D.Phil at the University of Oxford, where she researched the lives of the members of the virtually unstudied Catholic Armenian Manas family who operated in the fields of art, diplomacy, and finance, and analyzed the social and political ramifications of the family’s Catholic identity. Her study has been able to fill in many of the extensive lacunae in the narratives of the Manas family members as well as rectify misconstrued facts about their lives and careers through rigorous archival research.

At the BIAA she will be pursuing a two-part project comprising firstly, the revision of her dissertation manuscript for publication as a monograph; and secondly, the writing of an academic journal article on the related topic of the emergence of Catholic Armenians in the Ottoman lands. This article will aim to explore the story arc of Ottoman Catholic Armenians, most especially those of Ankara origin, using the lenses of displacement, exile, as well as internal and cross-boundary migration while delving into this community’s contributions to the artistic, cultural, and economic fabric of the Ottoman Empire from the 17th up through the 20th centuries.

Her research focus extends beyond the study of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire to include Syriac Christians as well. Before commencing her D.Phil, she pursued an M.St in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford to be able to effectively investigate the tripartite dynamic among the Armenians, the Syriac Christians and the Ottoman state—a topic she would like to explore in future research. Her other research interests include cultural and material heritage, diaspora studies, digital curation and museology, anthropology of migration, cultural production and perception, and transnational art history.


  • D.Phil in Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, 2021

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Armenian Studies Scholarship

  • M.St in Syriac Studies, University of Oxford, 2014

The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship in the Humanities

  • M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago, 2013

University of Chicago Social Sciences Division Full Academic Scholarship (2012-2013)

  • B.A. in Political Science, Sabancı University, 2011

Sabancı University Academic Scholarship (2010-2011)