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Mediterranean insularities and ‘miniature continents’: Space, landscape and agriculture in early modern Cyprus and Crete

Final Report Summary - MEDINS (Mediterranean insularities and ‘miniature continents’: Space, landscape and agriculture in early modern Cyprus and Crete.)

The Mediterranean Insularities project (MedIns, aimed at facilitating the career integration of a recent Ph.D. holder in Ottoman history by developing three key aspects of his academic profile: (1) training him in the use of digital humanities tools; (2) enhancing his palaeographic skills; and (3) adding to his teaching experience. The most obvious measure of success in achieving these aims is the fact that the researcher was offered a tenure-track position at a major international university in his field (Assistant Professor in Early Modern Ottoman and Mediterranean History at Boğaziçi University, Turkey). Having been hosted by a major international research institution (Institute for Mediterranean Studies, FO.R.T.H. Greece) that occupies a leading position in the field of Ottoman Studies was a major asset and boosted the researcher’s portfolio. Furthermore, given that the above position specifications included digital humanities experience, the skills and experience that the researcher acquired during the project were instrumental. As far as the Work Packages (WPs) and deliverables were concerned, they were all completed and submitted within the project duration, as planned. In terms of dissemination within and beyond academia, project goals were not only met, but were greatly surpassed.

The researcher commenced work on the project by training in the siyakat script of Ottoman Turkish, a necessary skill in order for him to process the primary sources that the project is based on, i.e. the Ottoman fiscal surveys (mufassal defterleri). Once training was completed through a series of private sessions with the Scientific coordinator, the researcher commenced work on the fiscal survey register of Cyprus (T.T.64 – Kibris Mufassal Defteri), which he completed. The equivalent data for Crete were already transcribed and processed in the context of a previous research project. These tasks concern Objective 1 of the project, namely ‘to identify and collect data revealing the patterns of agricultural production and the fundamental structures of the agricultural economy of early modern Cyprus and Crete’.

In fulfilling Objective 2 of the project (‘to process and analyse the data in order to reconstruct the cultural landscape of the two islands with the use of digital mapping tools, cartographic databases and Geographic Information Systems’), the researcher was trained in the use of GIS methods by the host’s Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing and Archaeo-Environment - GeoSatReSeArch). Through the skills he has acquired in the context of that training, he was able to spatially and statistically process the raw historical data of his primary sources.

Objective 3 (‘to situate Cyprus and Crete within the broader theoretical and conceptual framework of Mediterranean insularities’) was also successfully fulfilled through various means: the publication and authoring of articles, editing the special issue of a major journal, presenting at various conferences, and organising a major international conference on the issue of insularity – among other activities (see below).

Completed project outcomes include: three peer-reviewed articles/essays; 21 presentations at national and international level; teaching three postgraduate courses and several lectures as a visiting lecturer as part of the researcher’s career development activities; four radio interviews; the successful completion of training activities (palaeography and GIS methods); visits at schools; a training workshop for middle- and high-school teachers; the production of educational material based on project outcomes; a major international conference organised at the host establishing new links and networks; establishing a collaboration with the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, which will undertake the organisation of an exhibition based on the project.

The project was able to raise external funds for the organisation costs of the conference, a total of about €6,500: (a) TL 10,188 (ca. €3,200) from the Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations, Koç University (AKDMED); (b) CAN$2,500 (ca. €1,700) from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Hellenic Studies, York University; (c) CAN$2,000 (ca. €1,400) from the Hellenic Heritage Foundation, Toronto, Canada; (d) CAN$500 (ca. €330) from the Department of Humanities/Hellenic Studies Program, York University.

Forthcoming project outcomes include: three articles/essays accepted and due to be published in 2016; a collection of essays edited by the researcher and also due to be published in 2016 that will appear as both the special issue of the journal Princeton Papers, as well as an edited volume published by Markus Wiener Publishers; three essays/articles in progress; a television interview with CyBC due to be aired in November 2016; two interviews with the ‘Ottoman history podcast’, perhaps the most important web platform for Ottoman and Middle Eastern Studies (over 25,000 followers of facebook), due to be online in 2016; one selection of the conference papers will be published in a thematic issue of a major journal, and another as an edited volume; and an exhibition scheduled for March 2017 to be hosted by the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre and its ‘Terra Mediterranea’ series of events.

The project had the explicit objective of widening dissemination beyond academic audiences. In achieving this objective, the project’s activities were publicised in high-circulation national newspapers, the researcher was interviewed by radio and TV stations, various lectures and events that were open to public were organised, and an exhibition is currently in preparation. Firmly committed to having a socio-economic impact and wider societal implications, the project included a wide range of educational activities targeting schools and teachers (see above). The most lasting legacy of these activities is the production of educational material that teachers are able to implement in their classrooms and are available from the project website.