Ideology and symbolism in religious spaces: the case of Hagia Sophia

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Filiz Yenişehirlioğlu (Koç University) will speak at this webinar presented by BATAS (the British Association for Turkish Area Studies)

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The full title of Professor Yenişehirlioğlu's talk is:

Ideology and symbolism in the conversion and transformation of religious spaces: the case of Hagia Sophia

The recent conversion of Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) in Istanbul from a Unesco World Heritage monument to a mosque has reanimated the discussion on such alterations. This talk will focus on:

  • the construction of Hagia Sophia and its symbolism during the Byzantine period;
  • Hagia Sophia as a Royal Mosque during the Ottoman period;
  • Hagia Sophia as a museum after the foundation of the Turkish Republic;
  • the current reconversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
  • the symbolism of Hagia Sophia/Ayasofya in Orthodox Christian and Islamic popular culture as a common cultural heritage - with some reference to other historical examples of conversion or adaptation of religious spaces between different faiths

About the speaker:

Filiz Yenişehirlioğlu is an internationally recognized expert on Ottoman art and architecture. Her undergraduate and postgraduate education, including her doctoral studies, were undertaken at the Sorbonne. From 1975 to 2003 she pursued her academic career mainly at Hacettepe University (Ankara), with substantial periods also spent abroad with visiting teaching positions at the universities of Harvard and Cambridge. In 2003 she moved from Hacettepe to Başkent University, where she founded the Faculty of Fine Arts, Design and Architecture. Since 2014 she has been a member of the teaching staff of Koç University (Istanbul), but continues to be located in Ankara, where she is director of VEKAM, a research centre dedicated to assembling and archiving research materials relating to the city of Ankara. Professor Yenişehirlioğlu’s publications display an extraordinarily wide range of interests both within Ottoman art and architecture and in other fields relating to the cultural history of Turkey.

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