“For a week in September 2016 I took part in the Summer Scholarship for a Study Trip in Turkey. This program ran by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism brought together over twenty postgraduate students from around the world whose areas of study and research focused on Turkey or more broadly the Middle East. I am a Masters student at the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies with a particular interest in modern Turkish politics. The trip included Istanbul, Ankara, and what is known as the Lycian region of southern Anatolia.
While in Istanbul we visited the many Ottoman and Byzantine attractions, including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace and my personal favourite Hagia Sophia. We also had an opportunity to visit one of many antiquity museums in Istanbul which held one of the earliest peace treaties between the Hittites and the Egyptians. Coming so soon after the attack on Ataturk airport and the July coup attempt, Istanbul was almost completely devoid of tourists, and as were the other towns we visited, covered in the flag.
While in Ankara we were briefly guests of the Turkish Foreign Ministry which treated us to a lunch and three topical presentations. The first was an overview of Turkish foreign policy, followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Intelligence Chief’s presentation on Turkey’s current security risks. Lastly, we were provided with a presentation and books on the Turkish perspective on WW1 The latter two, while undoubtedly controversial were a valuable opportunity to hear the official Turkish perspective on some very sensitive topics.
Throughout the rest of the trip, we travelled throughout the Lycian region of southern Anatolia, visiting numerous archaeological sites of Hellenic and Roman origin as well as two very impressive antiquity museums. In addition, we visited a number of Anatolian villages and smaller towns as well as an Alevi assembly house which held the tomb of Abdal Musa. It was an incredible opportunity to see Turkey during a very interesting period which further inspired me to continue my focus on this country. It also allowed me to make friends with really interesting people with whom I have a common academic interest.”
Image and text by Alex Anczewski (MMECAS student)