A scene from İzmir (Michel Paboudjian Collection), houshamadyan.org

Conference on the Social, Cultural and Economic History of İzmir and the Region

Call for Papers

24-25 November 2017

Hrant Dink Foundation will be organizing a scientific conference titled ‘İzmir and the Region: A Century of Social, Economic and Cultural Change, 1850 - 1950’ in İzmir on 24-25 November 2017. The conference seeks to contribute to a thorough understanding of the social, economic, political and cultural changes that occurred in the city of İzmir and its hinterland between the years 1850 and 1950, and to present to the academia the recent studies conducted on this subject.

Western Anatolia’s integration with the global economy has a rather long history. Yet, the integration process particularly gained momentum and pace after 1838-39, and foreign capital investments flowing to İzmir increased considerably from 1856 onwards. The reforms made in the Ottoman provincial administration led to social and economic transformations, which in turn expedited integration of İzmir and the region with the global market. In parallel to İzmir’s development as a harbor city for the exportation of agricultural goods, a new form of economic existence/model emerged on the axis of predominantly Muslim producers, non-Muslim brokers/merchants and Levantine exporters. Consequently, the city of İzmir grew richer in the last years of the empire with the exportation of agricultural goods and raw materials, thus gaining a prominent place among the harbor cities of the Eastern Mediterranean such as Thessaloniki, Mersin, İskenderun, Beirut and Alexandria. The physical and social fabric of the city had also been reshaped in such a cosmopolite and multicultural context. The newspapers published in İzmir in 1914 in English, French, Ladino, Armenian, Greek and Turkish reveal the multicultural nature of the city.

The demographic, economic and physical transformations/destruction that took place in İzmir after the Balkan Wars, World War I, İzmir’s Invasion, the War of Liberation launched by the Ankara Government and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 caused the city to withdraw itself into its shell, thus gradually weakening its ties with the world economy. As the Aegean Region was the battle field of the Turkish War of Independence between 1919 and 1922, its economy became stagnant and the city suffered physical destruction after the great fire in 1922. Following the Exchange of Populations between Turkey and Greece in 1923-24, the demographic structure and social fabric of the region did also change. In particular, due to the étatist economic policies put into place after the Great Depression of 1929, İzmir withdrew itself. After the World War II, İzmir and the Aegean Region started playing a pioneer role in the political developments that took place in Turkey. Thus, the city and its hinterland once again became a center of attraction.

As a region that was deeply affected by demographic, economic, political and cultural collapse both before and after the foundation of the Republic, İzmir and its surrounding region do deserve academic interest. The story of İzmir between 1850 and 1950 can also be seen as a summary of how Turkey interacts with the world. Therefore, at this conference, we would like to particularly encourage and see academic studies that address - in a comprehensive and critical manner - the ‘traumatic’ transformations İzmir and its surrounding region went through; studies that are of interdisciplinary nature; and studies that go beyond the envisioning of nation-state.

  • The working languages of the conference will be Armenian, English, Turkish and Greek. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided. The English abstract of applications is under the responsibility of the submitter.
  • The presentations are limited to 20 minutes in order to have time for the Q&A session and the discussions.
  • The conference will be streamed live on www.hrantdink.org.
  • We kindly ask the participants to indicate their need of support for transportation and accommodation unless these are covered by their institutions.
  • The conference will be of an interdisciplinary nature. The conference is open to participation of researchers from various disciplines including history, history of economy, anthropology/cultural studies, sociology, political science and demographics, who study İzmir and its hinterland.
  • The papers to be presented at the conference will be published by the HDV Publications in the form of conference proceedings.
  • Researchers who would like to participate in the conference are kindly requested to submit a 250-word-long summary of their original papers by specifying the major references along with a 150-word-long resume that includes their birth date, undergraduate, graduate and PhD degrees, field of work, books published and information on the ongoing work by June 30th, 2017 to Karun Özçelik via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Scientific Committee
Ayhan Aktar (İstanbul Bilgi University)
Cengiz Aktar (Hrant Dink Foundation)
Ahmet İnsel (Hrant Dink Foundation)
Cemal Kafadar (Harvard University) (tbc)
Çağlar Keyder (Boğaziçi University) (tbc)
Elçin Macar (Yıldız Teknik University)
İlhan Tekeli (Middle East Technical University, retired)
Haris Exertzoglou (University of the Aegean)
Hervé Georgelin (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
Dimitris Kamouzis (Centre for Asia Minor Studies, Athens)
Biray Kolluoğlu (Boğaziçi University)
Sibel Zandi-Sayek (William & Mary University, Williamsburg VA) (tbc)
Alp Yücel Kaya (Ege University)

Organization Committee
Ayhan Aktar
Ayşe Gül Altınay
Sibel Asna
Delal Dink
Karun Özçelik