Don’t be ‘foreign’ to this institute

Don’t be ‘foreign’ to this institute

Nora Şeni, director of the French Institute of Anatolian Studies, was appointed two years ago by the French government. She is an İstanbul-born academic and a lecturer in the city planning department at the University of Paris VIII.

October 20, 2010, Wednesday/ 16:21:00/ MURAT TOKAY
The French Institute of Anatolian Studies (IFEA) is celebrating its 80th anniversary. In contrast to past years, the institute has decided to commemorate this anniversary by offering new opportunities to not only French researchers but to Turkish students as well.

IFEA, which has provided short-term scholarships and internships to Turkish students in the past, has decided to award two doctoral dissertations focusing on archeology or the social sciences the “Best Dissertation” award every year and to also publish them.

IFEA is affiliated with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is one of the first institutions that come to mind when one says Turkey in France. It is considered one of the best institutions in the field of archeology and the social sciences. IFEA plays a large role in the training of important Turkologists in Europe.

The director of the institute, Dr. Nora Şeni, who was appointed two years ago by the French government, is an İstanbul-born academic and a lecturer in the city planning department at the University of Paris VIII. She has published several books in Turkish, including “Kamondolar” (Commandos), “Konstantiniye’de Bir Mevsim” (A season in Constantine), “Seni Unutursam İstanbul” (If I Forget You İstanbul), “Oryantalizm ve Hayırseverliğin İttifakı” (The Alliance of Orientalism and Charity).

Noting that the institute’s mission is to foster academic networks between Turkish and French institutions and researchers, Şeni says: “We are trying to develop relations with researchers and universities in Turkey and to foster cooperation. We conduct research projects and organize conferences with universities. IFEA’s mission is to be a place in the heart of the city that discusses current city issues in an academic manner.”

IFEA was founded in 1930 with aim of offering a platform for French archeologists in Turkey. While the institute was established to focus on archeology, it later developed to include other branches such as history and urban development, and now also focuses on politics and anthropology, too. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs assigns 15 researchers, who focus on the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, to the institute to further their studies in these branches.

Şeni stresses that IFEA is an institute that studies Turkish history and politics, not French history and politics. Şeni says: “Our door is open to everyone. … We have a library of 30,000 books. An appointment is not required to examine these books. Everyone can benefit from this library. We have seminars and conferences that are open to the public. Our colleagues who specialize in certain fields can also assist researchers.”

The library does not comprise solely French and English books. There are also many Turkish books as well. The library catalog can be accessed online ( The institute also has a very rich card index.

Noting that IFEA is a wonderful opportunity for young academics and students, Şeni says, “We have specialists who can assist young researchers. They can come here and get support from our friends here.”

IFEA also offers doctoral grants. In the past, the institute gave grants to only students at French universities but now offers grants to projects in Turkey as well. Starting this year, the institute will award grants to two doctoral theses from Turkish universities and publish them as books.

The institute also organizes seminars and conferences on a regular basis. The events, which are open to the public, host important speakers from Turkey and abroad. The conferences can also be viewed online at the institute’s website. Some of the speakers include Professor Ahmet İnsel, Professor İsmail Kara and Bayram Balcı. The institute also organizes documentary screenings.

The institute is one of the four partners of the “İstanbul cultural heritage and the cultural economy” project, which is being carried out as part of the İstanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture projects. Next year, IFEA will organize events in İstanbul to discuss the urban and architectural projects of the “Grand Paris” plan, which is occupying the political agenda in Paris. Prominent architects like Jean Nouvel, Christian de Portzamparc and Antoine Grumbach will be invited to İstanbul.

Several books will be published

IFEA is starting a new editorial policy on its 80th anniversary. Several new books are being published in cooperation with the publishing houses Kitap Yayınevi and İsis Yayınevi. Some of these books will include, “Apartman, Galata’da Yeni Bir Konut Tipi” by Derin Öncel; “Bir Hanedanın Çöküşü” (new edition) by Nora Şeni, Sophie Le Tarnec; “Bizans Uygarlığına Çapraz Bakışlar” by Annie Pralong (ed.); “Osmanlı İmparatorluğu ve Avrupa” by Dejanirah Couto (ed.); “Hayırseverler ve Mesenler, Çağdaş Bir Kültür Politikası İçin” by Nora Şeni (ed.); and “Le Voyage de Adolphe Cremieux a Damas” by Nora Şeni.