Conference Suite

Do you enjoy From Altay to Yughur, but wish that you didn’t have to read quite so much? You’re in luck! Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I’ve been able to collate a healthy selection of recorded presentations from the period 2014-2021. Not all of these deal with the same topics as the rest of the blog, nor do they go about it in the same format. Nonetheless, they do help to provide a bit more context around the research and work that I engage in. I’ve arranged them in chronological format (newest to oldest), and I’ll try to come back to this page from time to time to add new videos as they become available (or I find them through a bit of Google stalking). Enjoy!

With a return to conference travel post-lockdowns, we’ve all had more opportunities to connect with colleagues face-to-face. Luckily, the experience of organizing talks and meetings online hasn’t been completely abandoned. The Slavic Reference Service, based out of the University of Illinois, has been making use of it to keep staff at national libraries around the world connected, including those of us at the British Library. On 5 December 2022, we had the chance to introduce some of our projects to members of the Service, including my own work with Turkic periodicals. Tune in at 31:48 until 44:40 to hear more about them!

Sometimes, I really wish that I would work on my Turkish in order to be able to do more than simply read in it. It would have helped out with my presentation to the International Symposium on Yunus Emre and Turkish From the Past to Today, hosted by Atatürk Üniversitesi 10-11 June 2021. Although the only one speaking in English, I gave it my best shot to describe the issues arising from cataloguing manuscripts with “erroneous” orthographies, and what these idiosyncrasies might actually represent.

The work that I do for the British Library requires me to be exceptionally flexible when it comes to my linguistic abilities. Sometimes, this can be quite challenging. It also means, however, that I’m constantly learning, not just new languages, but also about new cultures, contexts, and publishing histories. Among those that have really captured my imagination recently are the histories of textual production among Siberian Turkic communities. I had the opportunity to talk about my work with these books and magazines, and what I find so fascinating about them, in May 2021, thanks to the organizers of the XII Makushin Lectures. You’ll find my contribution beginning at 1:07:00 in the video below.

Food! God, how I love food. Talking about food is also good (although not as much as eating food). Luckily, I was given the chance to do just that (talk, not eat) in mid-May 2021, thanks to the British Library’s Food Season. As part of the Food Scribes event (11 May 2021), I explored two Ottoman texts about food, hygiene, nutrition and botany, both of which spoke to minority traditions and transcultural knowledge transfer. Fast forward to 29:50 to find yours truly.

It’s not often that I’m given free reign to talk about my work holistically, which is probably one of the reasons why I jumped at the change to participate in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Middle East and Islamic Center’s Kitab Talk Series. It was the first time in which I could really explore the various aspects of my position, the changes I’ve made, and the work that still needs to be done in making the Turkish and Turkic Collections more accessible to users around the world.

Curatorship and library collections aren’t just for researchers. Given the heavy presence of heritage items in the collections that I curate, it’s not surprising that I’m often asked to participate in commemorative events linked to state, ethnic or religious identities. In early February 2021, I did just that, speaking briefly on some of the manuscripts in the British Library’s holdings relating to the life and work of Alisher Navoiy, a 15th century Turkic poet claimed by Uzbekistan as their national bard.

As the pandemic wore on, we all began to wonder just how feasible research might be under social distancing conditions. The good people at ARISC decided to take the next logical step and organized a discussion on how one might access library resources on the South Caucasus without being physically present. I gave a few tips on the topic as it related to materials from Azerbaijan and Turkey, providing an overview to accessing the British Library’s digital holdings, as well as research materials from institutions across the region (check me out at 21:55 until 39:25).

A considerable amount of the research that I conducted for my doctoral dissertation involved the use of periodicals from the former Soviet Union in Turkic languages. The dissertation itself was focused on historiography, but I’d long wanted to return to the history of the periodicals themselves. The Future States conference hosted online by Dr. Tim Satterthwaite at the University of Brighton gave me just such an opportunity in early 2020.

As part of the 2019 Writing: Making Your Mark exhibition, the British Library hosted a series of events focused on the history of writing and written expression. One of the flagship gatherings was a series of writing-themed talks at the Jaipur Literary Festival hosted at the BL in June of that year. Here I am with journalist Pragya Tiwari, Dr. Irving Finkel of the British Museum and Dr. David M. Levy of the University of Washington looking at the history of writing and prospects for this mode of expression in the digital age.

The British Library is quite keen on promoting its exhibitions and the people behind them. As a Curator of the 2019 show Writing: Making Your Mark, I was given the opportunity to spend a few moments talking about one of my favourite items in the exhibition, a bilingual letter in Arabic and Swadaya from Mosul.

It’s always lovely to discover the transnational connections to which research work gives rise. Colleagues at AsiaArtArchive suggested that I participate in Sharjah Art Foundation‘s inaugural art book fair, Focal Point, in November 2018. I had the great opportunity to talk about Constructivism in Tatar periodicals, and to take part in a stimulating and invigorating meeting of artists and researchers from across Asia.

Catalogues and collection guides are great, but sometimes navigating a collection of works requires a personal touch. I was honoured to have been invited by Dr. Hakan Sandal-Wilson of Cambridge University’s Centre for Gender Studies to present on the British Library’s holdings of Turkish and Kurdish LGBTQ+-themed materials as part of the Methods in Question series in February 2018.

At the start of 2018, having freshly submitted my doctoral thesis, I was invited to participate in a multidisciplinary conference in Hong Kong, It Begins With a Story. Organized by AsiaArtArchive and the University of Hong Kong, the gathering focused on periodical publishing and aesthetics across Asia.

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