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Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Job Talk: Peter Christensen

Ambiguous Transmutation:
Mining, Mapping & Modeling the German Construction of the Ottoman Railway Network
5:15 pm, Rush Rhees Library, Welles Brown Room

Guillaume Gustave Berggren, View of the Anatolian Railways at Bekdemir, c. 1896. Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv Wolfenbüttel.

Guillaume Gustave Berggren, View of the Anatolian Railways at Bekdemir, c. 1896. Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv Wolfenbüttel.

What implications do lexical analysis, digital mapping, and spatial modeling have for research of the built environment and traditional forms of architectural history? This talk will grapple with this question through the specific example of the German construction of the Ottoman railway network, spanning the last fifty years of the "long" 19th century. In foregrounding the production of political, geographic, and architectural knowledge, this talk will propose a new paradigm for understanding historical change in form through both digital and analog approaches. This new paradigm is particularly salient for the German-Ottoman case as it allows its ambiguously colonial nature to prompt a reconsideration of how infrastructure and architecture are typically created in hegemonic contexts. This talk posits that a new process of formal change - ambiguous transmutation - is one roused by the specifics of history as well as a critical approach to the digitalizing humanities.

Peter Christensen received a B. Arch from Cornell University and will defend his dissertation for a PhD in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning from Harvard University this spring. Christensen’s work explores infrastructural and aesthetic networks between Europe and the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Trained as an architect, he is currently a junior faculty member at Munich Technical University.