From EUI to CEU: Gozde Kilic Reflects on CIVICA Postdoctoral Mobility
From October through December of 2022, European University Institute (EUI) Max Weber postdoctoral fellow Gozde Kilic was embedded at Central European University (CEU) in Vienna as part of CIVICA’s postdoctoral mobility program, which offers postdoctoral researchers from across the alliance the opportunity to visit other CIVICA member institutions to advance their research.
For Kilic, advancing her research at CEU entailed working under the supervision of Professor Nadia Al-Bagdadi and significantly expanding a network of academic and intellectual colleagues with whom she discussed her work and strengthened the postdoctoral project, “A history of love in modern Turkey: Amorous origins of the self, 1878-1943”.
“It's always good to leave your comfort zone because with intellectual work you really need to share the ideas with other people,” reflected Kilic. “I really believe that you need to get feedback about what you're doing beyond the supervisor-researcher relationship. If you can expand your network and meet new people through mobility, as opposed to, say, a workshop or one-day conference, the exchange is going to be deeper and more long-term.”
Kilic has previously engaged in mobility programs including Erasmus during her undergraduate studies and, later in graduate school, through a research award by the Mitacs Foundation in Canada for an exchange to Turkey. To arrange the CIVICA mobility period, Kilic reviewed the alliance universities and identified CEU for its studies in Ottoman and Middle Eastern subject areas, as well as for the strong faculty on such topics. “I connected with Nadia Al-Bagdadi because her approach to cultural history was very resonant for me,” noted Kilic. She additionally highlighted the great value of learning from her host supervisor’s expertise in Islamic history and culture, as well as late Ottoman modernity from a gender and sexuality perspective.
The two met on a regular basis to discuss the progress of Kilic’s paper, as well as the state of the field of sexuality research. During her stay as a CIVICA scholar at CEU, Kilic’s main focus was to produce a final draft for publication, entitled “From mystical to morbid love: The emergence of sexual science and gender ideology in the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic”. This writing is part of a wider research project she has been conducting at EUI in Florence since 2021. The paper investigates the construction of Ottoman/Turkish sexual scientific knowledge and gender norms in the early twentieth century. By focusing on cross-cultural entanglements between European and Ottoman-Islamicate traditions, it shows how the established ideas about love, mysticism, and morality were amalgamated with the imported sexological apparatus not in a totalising but, instead, in an eclectic and relatively unsystematic fashion.
A special research seminar concluded Kilic’s mobility visit to CEU, chaired by Al-Bagdadi, with PhD student Ali Hashemian, as the discussant, and invited faculty, fellows, and students whose research interests aligned and intersected with Kilic’s. Attendees came from CEU’s department of history, department of gender studies, center for religious studies, and center for Eastern Mediterranean studies.
“It was very intense and special because I've never had the opportunity to present and discuss in such a focused way. I was able to speak with many scholars, and the more we discussed, the more we revealed areas of work in common, which led to conversations about collaboration,” said Kilic. She added, “They were very constructive and helped me in reworking and fine-tuning my paper.”
Being at CEU for an extended period allowed Kilic to build a cherished network and circle of intellectuals and scholars working in her field on related topics. “I am grateful to Nadia who helped me by putting me in touch with other academics, which multiplied into additional conversations,” - a valuable aspect of exchange she attributes to the mobility opportunity. “My stay at the CEU as a CIVICA scholar was very successful for both taking my research to a new level and generating renewed interest in the fields that my research covers at my host institution.”