The end of ANAMED’s 2019–2020 fellowship year came in some ways very quickly, in some ways very slowly.In all ways compared to what we are used to at ANAMED,it came very strangely. It is hard to believe that just a few months ago we had only recently begun the second half of the fellowship year with new talks, workshops, symposia, and exhibitions on the near horizon. Just as the onset of the coronavirus upset the then well-established and regular progress of everyone’s lives and work, ongoing pandemic conditions prevented the realization of many of these events as well as the celebration of the face-to-face gatherings that typically provide the ANAMED community meaningful closure to the year.
Since the previous ANAMED newsletter, we’ve also had the pleasure of welcoming new staff to the ANAMED Library—Archives Specialist and Branch Librarian, Nathalie Defne Gier, and ANAMED Head Librarian, Vasiliki Mole.A suite of online Library Talks, webinars, and podcasts continue to provide academic content and library services in new formats.To lessen the sense of isolation brought on by these times, we also continued to hold weekly “Virtual Teas” through the end of the fellowship year, each week featuring a varying assortment of staff and fellows dispersed around the world.Like so many in these times, we became proficient in Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and the Zoom achievement of goals we did not set!
Despite all of the above, it is plain to see that normal routines were cast to the wind, even as we strove to maintain some sense of our vibrant community. As the global disaster unfolded, the most common question I received was a variant of “What’s happened to the ANAMED fellows?” All of us on the staff received similar questions, and we provided answers as best we could from casual correspondences and fellows’social media posts that described a range of experiences—sometimes depressed, sometimes amused, and inevitably frustrated and concerned in one way or another. To collect these diverse musings, I asked willing fellows to contribute written responses to the relatively banal question: “How has the global pandemic affected your ANAMED fellowship life and associated research?” Many responded sharingtheir personal stories.
Most fellows hadmuch earlier departed ANAMED for temporary or permanent homes in Istanbul, Ankara, or elsewhere (as far as Alaska!), to carry on their research remotely. Yet, a small group stayed behind at ANAMED to experience our facility like no fellows have before, with barely any occupants by day or night, Istiklal shutters continuously closed, and common spaces continuously dark…yet with wee hours free of nightclub noise, expansive views across the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara free of pollution, and new wild (and domesticated) life freely roaming the terrace. Their stories are as raw and sad—and also erudite, humorous, and touching—as expected. We share them with you via this e-newsletter as a representative record of the ANAMED fellow experience in Spring 2020.
A common theme inmany of these reflections is the supportive scholarly community that ANAMED fosters: it brings together a “diverse, inspiring, and interesting group of people” (D’Anna) that is permeated with the “atmosphere of fellowship” (Klinger), highlighting the importance of scholarly and social interactions, planned and unplanned.Like Koç University President Umran İnan’s recent reminders that universities enable “the appointment between generations”—referring to face-to-face faculty-student interactions—fellowships enable the flexible and unscheduled appointments between researchers working on seemingly disparate subjects that often reveal common ground for mutualscholarly growth. Theseare the types of rare opportunities that ANAMED aims to continue to support long into the future, beginning again as soon as possible, but exactly when we cannot yet predict.
Our 2020–2021 fellowship program will adopt a hybrid model of supporting fellow research,beginning in Fall 2020 with “remote” fellowships and aiming to resume “in person” fellowships come Spring 2021. In the meantime, we’ll continue to run programs, prepare exhibitions,provide library services, and host events in in-person or virtual formats, as conditions dictate. We look forward to seeing you at least virtually for some of these events, and in person, in Turkey, on Istiklal Caddesi, and at ANAMED as soon as possible.