Dr. Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, Middle East University and the University of Pittsburgh, "Heritage in a Punctuated Equilibrium: Coexistence and Conflict at Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir"

July 28, 2017 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

brought to you by the Department of History of Art & Architecture, and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir

Middle East University and the University of Pittsburgh

Heritage in a Punctuated Equilibrium: Coexistence and Conflict at Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir

Friday, July 28th, 2pm, Frick Fine Arts Building 202

Surp Giragos is one of the most magnificent examples of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture in the Middle East.  Throughout its long existence, the edifice witnessed multiple periods of violent conflict and episodes of intercommunal coexistence. As it stands today, it is an emotionally charged historic heritage site, iconic for the globally dispersed Armenian population. In early 2015, the restoration project of Surp Giragos was awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage (Europa Nostra); and Diyarbakır’s historic fortifications and adjacent gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district, where Surp Giragos is located, however, became an active warzone in September 2015 following an outbreak of violence between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish security forces. In April 2016, the Turkish government announced its decision to expropriate the Sur district and Surp Giragos Church was part of the expropriated properties, raising concerns as to the future status of religious minority sites.

This lecture analyzes the dramatic reversal of fortunes of Surp Giragos Church in a punctuated equilibrium model, looking at the alternating periods of violent conflict and coexistence in relative peace, and investigates how discourses of heritage are intertwined in local, national and international politics.

** Dr. Tanyeri-Erdemir is a research associate at the Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include cultural heritage management of multi-layered sacred sites, ethnographic investigations of historic religious buildings, re-utilization and museumification of religious heritage. She received her BA and MA in Archaeology and Art History from Bilkent University, Ankara. She attended Boston University as a Fulbright Fellow and received her PhD in Archaeology there in 2005. Until 2017 she served as deputy director of the Center for Science and Society and lecturer in the graduate programs in Architectural History, Middle East Studies and Eurasian Studies at Middle East Technical University, Ankara. She is the co-author of Antagonistic Tolerance Competitive Sharing of Sacred Sites and Spaces(Routledge, 2016).


Location and Address

Frick Fine Arts Building 202