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Transformations and conversions of buildings across historical periods, cultural contexts and geographical boundaries


27-28 avril 2021


Dre Manuela Studer-Karlen, UNIFR


Alessandra Ricci ( Istanbul, Koç University ), Michele Bacci (UNIFR) , Glenn Bowman (Canterbury), Yelyzaveta Nesterova (Istanbul), Sevde Bakaner (Istanbul), Elena Vorobyeva (Istanbul), Irem Biçer (Istanbul), Didier Clerc (Fribourg), Kostis Smyrlis (Athens), Paul Magdalino (University of St. Andrews), Robert Ousterhout (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania), Athanasios Semoglou (Thessaloniki, School of History and Archeology), Alessandra Ricci (Istanbul), Cassandre Lejosne (UNIL), Hale Telli (Izmir), Laura Pierini (UNIL), Baha Tanman (University of Istanbul), Holger A. Klein (New York, Columbia Unviversity), Nadia Podzemskaia (Paris, CNRS)


Following the decision of the Turkish government – in August 2020 – to change its juridical status, the former church of Saint Saviour in Chora in Istanbul entered a new phase of its history. As with other Byzantine monuments – starting from Hagia Sophia – its conversion into a mosque is for many a cause for alarm, inasmuch as its renewed destination for Islamic worship can be expected to have a strong impact on the conservation of its décors and be at odds with its meaning as shared heritage of mankind that its use as a museum was able to convey. The Fribourg workshop aims to look at Chora from a transcultural perspective, by retracing its continuous transformations in form and function from Late Antiquity to the present day. The main aim will be to warn scholars against the enduring tendency to look at monuments as living remnants of lost worlds and to more deeply analyse the dynamics by which historical landmarks are gradually invested with new meanings and uninterruptedly reshaped. 1st day: march 2nd 2021: Ph.D. Workshop. The question in a wider spectrum If the health situation allows, the doctoral students should meet in a room at the University of Fribourg. The two experts will be connected online. Alessandra Ricci, Professor, Koç University, Istanbul Holger A. Klein, Professor, Columbia Unviversity, New York The Ph.D. students will be given the following tasks: presenting papers based on their own experience and opening perspectives as to both the specific case of the Chora building, but also from a comparative viewpoint with reference to other Medieval monuments, concerning the questions of conversions, heritage, transformation, conservation. 2nd day: march 3rd 2021: scientific Workshop. Chora as example Ph.D. students will be given the following tasks: 1) chairing the different sessions; 2) serving as respondents, working out general questions, and making final comments on each paper.


Programme (PDF)

Activité en ligne via:


27 April 2021

Graduate Workshop

8h45: Alessandra Ricci, Michele Bacci:Greetings and introduction

Keynote lecture 1

9h00: Glenn Bowman (Canterbury): The Processes and Problematics of Co-Habiting Religious Sites
Chair: Manuela Studer-Karlen

9h45: Yelyzaveta Nesterova and Sevde Bakaner (Istanbul): Hagia Sophia and its Public(s): Former and Present-Day
Visitor Experience

10h15: Coffee break

10h30: Elena Vorobyeva and Irem Biçer (Istanbul): Hagia Sophia and its Public(s): New Public Image and its Reception

11h00: Discussion

11h30: Didier Clerc (Fribourg): Erudition at the Chora
Through the Lens of the "Comparison of Demosthenes
and Aristides" by Theodore Metochites.
12h00: Discussion

12h15: Lunch

International Conference Chair: Michele Bacci

14h00: Kostis Smyrlis (Athens): Contextualizing Theodore
Metochites and his Restoration of the Chora. 14h30: Discussion

14h45: Paul Magdalino (St. Andrews): The Chora Katholikon:
a Typical or Extraordinary Byzantine Monument?

15h15: Discussion

15h30: Coffee break

15h45: Robert Ousterhout (Philadelphia): The Chora
Monastery: A Building Remembers its History.

16h15: Discussion

16h30: Athanasios Semoglou (Thessaloniki): The Descent to
Hades in the funeral Chapel of Chora Monastery in
Constantinople: Meaning and Interpretations.

17h00: Final discussion


28 April 2021

Graduate Workshop
8h50: Greetings

Keynote lecture 2

9h00: Alessandra Ricci (Istanbul): St. Saviour en te Chora
(in the Countryside): Reflections on Constantinople's
Late Antique "Countryside" and on the Contemporary
Urban Setting of the Chora.
Chair: Michele Bacci

9h45: Cassandre Lejosne (University of Lausanne and
The Centre for Early Medieval Studies of Brno):
From Territory to Nationalism: Contested Armenian
Monuments in Azerbaijan.

10h15: Discussion

10h30: Coffee break

10h45: Hale Telli (Izmir): An Islamic Element in Armenian
Architectural Decoration: Muqarnas.

11h15: Discussion

11h30: Laura Pierini (Lausanne): Semantic and Structural
Transformations of the Church San Paolo Converso in
Milan. Birth and Evolution of a Dialogue Between
Sacred and Profane.

12h00: Discussion

12h15: Lunch

International Conference Chair: Alessandra Ricci


14h00: Baha Tanman (Istanbul): The Adjustment of Chora
Monastery to Ottoman Use.

14h30: Discussion

14h45: Holger A. Klein (New York): Restoring Byzantium at
the Kariye Camii: The American Contribution.

15h15: Discussion

15h30: Coffee break

15h45: Nadia Podzemskaia (Paris): Sur les études des
fresques et mosaïques du Monastère de Chora dans
les trois premières décennies du XXe siècle: de l'Institut
archéologique russe au Byzantine Institute of America.

16h15: Discussion

16h30: Round table and final discussion.





Délai d'inscription 20.04.2021
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