[R6027] Read Ekrem Kocu's Istanbul Ansiklopedisi and its Archive

Created by Firuzan Melike Sumertas
Wednesday, 10/14/20 11:00 am


This roundtable starts a discussion around an encyclopaedia on Istanbul that was serialized between 1958-1973 by Re?ad Ekrem Koçu (1905-75). Currently owned by the Kadir Has University, the archive of the encyclopaedia is being digitized by SALT Research, Istanbul in collaboration as a joint project. This roundtable intends to discuss the project and its approaches for the digitization of this comprehensive archive as well as its prospective utilization within long-term research projects in digital humanities or relative fields. Each participant will address a particular aspect of the project including the ways of disassembling and re-assembling its diverse content through digital medium.

The eleven-volume ?stanbul Ansiklopedisi, the lifelong, never-completed dream-project of Turkish historian and novelist Re?ad Ekrem Koçu, was arguably the most ambitious and comprehensive publishing venture ever undertaken by a single person. The encyclopaedia presents a curious blend of academic learning and subjective recollection, giving everyday topics equal standing with historically significant ones. It contained information about 'all architectural buildings' in the city, from mosques and hammams to palaces and coffeehouses; 'all famous men', from scholars and poets to dentists and gamblers, who have lived there; all its 'natural beauties and geography'; all calamities that have befallen it, from epidemics and earthquakes to fires and revolutions; the customs and traditions of its people in all ages; its slang; its well-known visitors; books and poems written about it. However, it was not only about the city's past but also about its present. Koçu was being both journalist and historian, made his encyclopaedia a historical record of the past and a journalistic report on the present. Throughout 1960s and 1970s, ?stanbul Ansiklopedisi kept up with the undergoing changes in the city.

The ?stanbul Ansiklopedisi Archive comprises all that remains of Re?ad Ekrem Koçu's files. Besides material related to eleven published volumes that reach to letter G, the Archive also consists of a considerable amount of textual and visual material related to the prospective volumes. A laboratory for close observation of Re?ad Ekrem Koçu's working methods, the Archive offers researchers drafts of a good number of entries, with corrections in Koçu's handwriting on them. This archive and the content of the published ?stanbul Ansiklopedisi will be made publicly available through a customized interface at the end of 2021 through a joint project of Kadir Has University and SALT Research (Istanbul). The roundtable will introduce the project and open the ground for further discussion.


Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (OTSA)


Anthro; Arch; Archit & Urb Plng; Art/Art Hist; Hist; Lit



Selim Kuru

(NELC, University of Washington)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant; Presenter;