eCMES: Photo Essays

Images from the Islamic periphery – trade and Islam in Burkina Faso

April 30, 2007

By Ondrej Beranek

Islam is like a pure river: it takes on the color of the rocks on the riverbed.
Amadou Hampâté Bâ, West African writer and scholar.

Muslims in this West African country form more than fifty percent of the entire population. In previous centuries, Islam spread in West Africa mainly through the activities of indigenous merchants and itinerant scholars traversing the trans-Saharan trade routes and establishing mosques that served as hubs of Islamization. The following photos were taken in the...

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Ezogelin Çorbası - Turkish Red Lentil, Bulgur, and Mint Soup

April 12, 2006

By Dilek Barlow

This hearty soup is wonderful to eat on a cold winter day. Originally from southeast Anatolia, the origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who lived in the village of Dokuzyol near Gaziantep in the early 20th century. Legend has it that Ezo, with her rosy cheeks and black hair, was admired by travelers along the caravan route who stopped to rest in her village. Many men longed for her hand in marriage and Ezo’s family hoped to secure a worthy match for their daughter.

Unfortunately, Ezo the bride (gelin...

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An "other" perspective of Tunisia

November 17, 2005

I may have been an expatriate living and working in Tunisia in the spring of 2003, but to my friends and students there I was, in perspective, exiled away to Harvard when I left. I was an English teacher in the seaside town of Sousse for six months before coming to the AM program at CMES, and while six months may be inadequate to develop a sense of belonging to a place, it was for me more than sufficient time to discover some ‘other’ perspectives of my own.

The ‘other’ perspective is, not to put it too simply, exactly what I have in mind when I click the shutter. When we photograph...

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Cultural Exchange in Istanbul

September 30, 2005

Having just completed my first year as a PhD student at CMES with a concentration in Islamic visual and material culture, I decided to spend some of my first summer in Istanbul, Turkey. I had two goals in mind; one was to practice the Turkish I learned in Professor Karateke’s class. The other was to survey the libraries, museums, and monuments as pre-doctoral research. One of the best preparations I had for my trip was the trip to London this past Spring. Professor Roxburgh and Professor Necipoglu arranged for the doctoral students under their mentorship to visit the...

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From Scetis to Sohag

September 12, 2005

The following images are just a sampling of the numerous photographs I have taken over the last couple of years during fieldtrips to Egypt. The photos range geographically from the monastic communities in the depressed desert valley of Scetis (Wadi al-Natrun) on the road between Cairo and Alexandria, to the hot southern region of Sohag, home of monasteries founded by St. Shenouda the Archimandrite (c. 348 – 466 CE). My anthropological research among Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt has been concerned with the mobilization of material culture objects as a means of bridging the physical...

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