Zeynep Gursel: Portraits of Unbelonging

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Date: Sunday, July 26, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM EDT

Register Online

This event is free and open to the public.

On Sunday, July 26 at 5 pm ET (2 pm PT), in partnership with the Ararat-Eskijian Museum and Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, we will present an online talk by Zeynep Devrim Gürsel entitled "Portraits of Unbelonging: Photography, the Ottoman State, and the Making of Armenian Emigrants, 1896-1908."

You have the option of attending on Zoom or via livestream on YouTube.

To attend on Zoom, advance registration is required and space is limited. Please note that registrations must be completed prior to the start of the event. Zoom attendees have the opportunity to submit written questions via Zoom which will be asked as time permits.

Zoom Registration link:


To view live on YouTube, go to NAASR's channel a few minutes before the start of the program. (No registration is required.) NAASR's YouTube channel is always at this address:


You can also find us on YouTube by searching for "NAASR"+"Armenian Studies." If you are new to our YouTube channel, we invite you to explore the many event videos there, and please contact us if you have any questions or problems.

Portraits of Unbelonging investigates the history of Ottoman Armenian emigration from the Ottoman east to the United States from the politically fraught and often violent 1890s to the end of Abdülhamid II's reign in 1909. Between 1896 and 1909, Ottoman Armenian subjects could emigrate legally only if they renounced their nationality and promised to never return to the empire. Having their photograph taken was a key step in the process. These photos recorded their “renunciation of nationality” and became one of the first uses of photography to police borders anywhere in the world.

The goal of Portraits of Unbelonging is to link an Ottoman Armenian past to an American future to create a double-sided history of migration. Gursel follows the stories of emigrant families over a century through official documents, ship manifests, and family photo albums. This involves traveling all around the United States to meet with descendants of those photographed and hear what became of the families first encountered in the Ottoman archives.

Dr. Zeynep Devrim Gürsel is a media anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She is the author of Image Brokers: Visualizing World News in the Age of Digital Circulation (Univ. of California Press, 2016) and the director of the award-winning ethnographic film Coffee Futures. For more than a decade she has been researching photography in the late Ottoman period.

This program is co-sponsored by the Ararat-Eskijian Museum, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, and NAASR.

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