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Negotiating Self-Representation and Cultural Identity: Artistic and Cultural Responses to the Byzantine-Ottoman Encounter (1300–1453)

Merih Danalı Cantarella, Harvard University, William R. Tyler Fellow 2012–2013 and 2014–2015

My dissertation investigates visual and cultural encounters between Byzantium and the Islamic world (ca. 1300–1453) and the impact of these encounters on modes of elite and imperial self-fashioning and representation. On a broader level, it explores the implications of shifting modes of self-representation for late Byzantine artistic, cultural, and political identity. During my fellowship year at Dumbarton Oaks, I had the privilege of examining in person several objects in the museum collection. The time I spent as a fellow allowed me to complete two chapters of my dissertation. I worked full-time in the ICFA during the fall semester as part of my fellowship requirement, which gave me the opportunity to work very closely with one of the world’s most extensive collections of photographs of Byzantine monuments and artifacts. Browsing several hundred images every day from different historical and geographical contexts has been a rather enriching experience which allowed my own research project to evolve in surprising ways. I also conducted extensive research in the archives, incorporating some unpublished photographs and a restoration report into the chapter I have written on the portrait of John V Palaiologos in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.