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Fachgebiet Kunstgeschichte der ModerneDiss_Willert

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Sebastian Willert: Cultural Imperialism versus Protectionism? On the Role of Antiquities as a matter of conflict within the German-Ottoman Art Policy between 1890 and 1918

The establishment of archaeology as a scientific discipline during the 19th century lead to an increasing number of expeditions and excavations within the Ottoman Empire. The common goal of many of these enterprises was primarily the acquisition of antiquities to expand the collections of Western museums. Collecting and displaying antiquities in museums became an allegory for cultural superiority. International competition led to a scramble for objects, which involved close collaboration between archaeologists, museums, diplomats and the military. In the late 19th century the German Empire strengthened its economic, military and cultural activity in the Ottoman realm. For museums concerned with the acquisitions of objects, the Royal museums in Berlin quickly became a key global player. Simultaneously the directors of the Ottoman Müze-i Hümayun (Imperial Museum), Osman Hamdi Bey and later Halil Edhem Eldem, established protectionist campaigns against Western access to antique sites and tried to position their museum within the concert of museums. On the eve of the First World War, German and Ottoman archaeologists enjoyed close relations but disputes over the protection of cultural heritage also created a distinct rivalry. Disputes simmered over issues such as the control over cultural assets, the dispossession of antiquity collections, the translocation of artefacts, a common understanding for collaborative archaeological activities and even the protocols for the protection of monuments.

Against this background this research ultimately examines the overlapping or rivalling aims and agendas of the German and Ottoman archaeology and politics between 1899 and 1918. In this context the study shows the interaction of several actors involved and provides an interdisciplinary contribution not only to the history of the German-Ottoman relations, but also for the history of cooperation and rivalry in interests concerning archaeology, monument protection and museums, as well as diplomacy in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Advisor: Bénédicte Savoy

About Sebastian Willert: here

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