Posted on Monday 28th January 2013
Dr. Amanda Phillips joined the University's Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies on a two-year research fellowship sponsored by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. Their M4Human programme encourages scholars to move between countries, and in some cases, continents, to pursue research on a variety of topics in the humanities. Moving from the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin to Birmingham made good sense for Amanda: CBOMGS is home to Dr. Rhoads Murphey, one of only a few Ottomanists in the UK, and his expertise is central to the development of the field on this side of the Atlantic. The interdisciplinary nature of the centre, too, serves an important role uniting historians, archaeologists and now, for two years, another art historian.
Amanda's project at Birmingham focuses on the role of objects in everyday life in the Ottoman Empire between 1600 and 1800. The consumption, and display, of porcelains, textiles, metalware, books, and other household goods, is understudied despite the fact that these items survive in large numbers and in fact comprise the lion’s share of many museums’ Islamic collections. The goal is to investigate the various strains of thought that shaped the acquisition and display of goods, and consider style, fashion, and conspicuous consumption in the Middle East on its own terms, using the objects as primary sources.