Name: Nikolaos Mavropoulos, PhD
Title: Colonizers or migrants? The Greek community in Italian Eritrea
Starting date: 2023
Project Description: At the University of Potsdam, I will undertake the “Colonizers or migrants? The Greek community in Italian Eritrea” research project. The objective is to shed light on the mindset of Greek migrants in late 19th century Eritrea, who found themselves situated among the Italian ruling class and the colonized native populations. The project will provide a contribution to ongoing postcolonial debates surrounding racism, social change, identity, settler colonialism and colonial capitalism.
Name: Dr. Zeynep Turkyilmaz
Title : The Onerous Odyssey of Hovannes Avetaranian: A Cosmopolite’s struggle for emancipation, agency and equality
Starting date: 01.10.2021
Project Description: My RTG project investigates the life of a convert, Mehmet Şükrü who was born to a Muslim family in a small village in the eastern territories of the Ottoman Empire in 1861, adopted the name Hovannes Avetaranian and died as a devoted Protestant missionary in Wiesbaden Germany in 1919. Tracing Avetaranian’s exceptional journey, his views on the world, his curiosity and soul-searching, self-proselytization and conversion, his missionary life from the Kashgar Mountains in China to Potsdam in Germany, I hope to uncover a trajectory of critical, dissenting and emancipatory entanglements of the local population in the Ottoman countryside with the modern-world -in-the-making. In the end however, Avetaranian’s struggle could not redesign the religio-political trajectory of his peoples as he had imagined and hoped, nor it could change the metanarrative about them within or outside of the Ottoman Empire. Yet, drawing on multi-sited archival work and critical literature on Ottoman empire, colonialism, cosmopolitanism, and religious/conversion studies, I propose to study his struggles as a radical intervention and an unwavering reminder of the complex and divergent possibilities of the past, and of enclaves of alternative worldings.