Joachim Ístlund

Brokering, Intermediate & Translation in the Eastern Mediterranean

In research in recent years the particular form of knowledge that is produced through mediation has attracted an increasing interest among scholars. The project takes its starting point in ongoing research related to the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), and with a focus on issues of so-called "intermediaries", i.e. actors / interaction patterns which in turn will help to translate, cross, merge or transform boundaries between cultures. Thanks to the multidisciplinary character among the researchers at SRII (history, literature, language, architecture and art history) the project aims to start a dialogue about how different disciplines theoretically and methodologically approach the issue of mediation. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of "intermediaries", the aim is to initiate new research collaborations and provide an innovative contribution to an issue that arouses more and more interest.

F15-1228: 1
Joachim Östlund
Brokers and brokering in the eastern Mediterranean

Appropriations Manager / Grant Administrator
Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul


The purpose of the project
In research in recent years the particular form of knowledge that is produced through mediation has attracted an increasing interest among scholars. The project takes its starting point in ongoing research related to the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), and with a focus on issues of so-called "intermediaries", i.e. actors / interaction patterns which in turn will help to translate, cross, merge or transform boundaries between cultures. Thanks to the multidisciplinary character among the researchers at SRII (history, literature, language, architecture and art history) the project aims to start a dialogue about how different disciplines theoretically and methodologically approach the issue of mediation. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of "intermediaries", the aim is to initiate new research collaborations and provide an innovative contribution to an issue that arouses more and more interest.

The project has highlighted three different aspects of mediators and mediation: (1) What types of brokers is possible to discern? (2) What happens during mediation and (3) what kind of knowledge generated at the mediation? How highlighted such issues in the history, architecture, literature, languages, ethnology and how can the lessons learned from each discipline to open up new lines of research?


Results
The project has generated in three workshops (Lund, Istanbul and Athens), conference papers, an application, a plan of a postgraduate course and the establishment of a research team from various humanistic disciplines. The following activities summarizes the most important results of the project:

Workshop in Lund
On September 21, 2015 a well-attended workshop were held in Lund with keynote Natalie R. Rothman, Harvard University (http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/hcs/natalie-rothman). The workshop was streamed on the Internet and could be followed live. Rothman is one of the leading researchers in the subject field intermediation in the eastern Mediterranean. The contact with Rothman expanded our network and resulted in a fruitful exchange of knowledge and contacts. During the workshop the team worked with the planning of the next workshop in Istanbul (CFP) and as a result of the meeting with Rothman a first sketch of an application were made (the sketch combined arguments from Rothman and the participants of the conference). The workshop resulted in the following presentations and conference papers:

Keynote:
Natalie E. Rothman (Toronto) "What do intermediaries mediate? Some Perspectives from Istanbul and Venice in the seventeenth century"

Joachim Östlund (Lund): "More than a messenger: Tripolitan envoys and Their Scandinavian intermediaries in the 18th century"

Gustaf Fryksén (Lund): "Rogue servants? Swedish consuls and free agents in the Mediterranean, 1720-1770"

Gertrud Olsson (Stockholm): "Architectural agent between East and West in the 19th century"

Maria Karlsson (Lund): "Intermediaries and historians against the grain. The case of Bernard Lewis'


Workshop in Istanbul
January 12-16, 2016 the team and invited guests had a meeting in Istanbul with the purpose to work with an application. The workshop in Istanbul was preceded by a Call for Papers for interested, but the tense political situation in Istanbul (escalating with the suicide attack on January 12, 2016 at the tourist attraction Sultanahmet Square) resulted in some (understandable) cancellations from invited participants. The workshop resulted in the finalization of an application to Riksbankens jubileumsfond announced during the spring 2016. The following application was submitted:

Application / Application: P16-0586: 1
Intermediaries in the Eastern Mediterranean: an interdisciplinary study of knowledge transfer across cultural boundaries

Participants in the application:
Cetrez, Önver (Master of Theology. D.)
Josephson Hesse, Kristina (Ph. D.)
Olsson, Gertrude (Ph. D.)
Ostlund, Joachim (Ph. D.)

The project did not receive any funding's.

PhD course
During the beginning of 2016 the project designed an interdisciplinary course for doctoral students as a response of a call/announcement from the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SF II). The course would be directly linked to at least two Swedish universities, while the teaching should be located in Turkey. The PhD course ( "On cultural flows: an interdisciplinary course on brokers and brokering, 7.5 credits") was based on the theme outlined in the application by the project. The application was ranked as number two among the other proposals to SFII.


Workshop in Athens
The last workshop of the project took place in Athens, 8-13 September 2016. Originally the idea was to meet in Istanbul, but the plans were diverted due to the uncertain situation that arose in connection with the coup attempt Istanbul. In Athens the team were able to establish contacts with the Swedish Institute in Athens. The workshop consisted of discussions on future research and resulted in a revised version of our application, further discussion of the course on Intermediaries and brokers and a discussion on publishing strategies for the texts that were written by the members of the team during the project (Transactions or Dragomanen).


Conclusion
Overall the project has played an important role, despite the rejection on the proposal both to RJ (the project) and to SFII (the PhD course ). These two applications would not have been possible to produce without the support from Riksbankens jubileumsfond. Several important contacts have been established, both internationally and nationally. The cross-disciplinary design of the project has resulted in creative debates on the topic of mediation, and thanks to the interest from different colleagues at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul the project continues in new forms.