'Improve and Reform Them': Manufacturing Citizenship and Goods in the Vocational School of Late Ottoman Baghdad
Aga Khan Program Lecture:
'Improve and Reform Them':
Manufacturing Citizenship and Goods in the Vocational School of Late Ottoman Baghdad
Lydia Harrington, Historian, AKPIA@MIT Post-Doctoral Fellow
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This talk will analyze the building, operation, and curriculum of the state industrial school (sanayi mektebi) in Baghdad within the context of modern urban planning, Ottoman and Arab nationalisms, educational reform, and industrialization, from the 1860s to World War I. The school’s main objectives were to morally reform children who were orphans, refugees, and/or considered “delinquents” and mold them into productive citizens by offering them an academic education and training in either traditional crafts such as shoe-making or in new technologies such as printing press operation. Through consultation of photographs, architectural plans, textbooks, provincial almanacs (salname), government communications, and diaries, I demonstrate how this school was part of a broader modernizing and centralizing strategy that was increasingly centered on a Turkish, Sunni Islamic identity and moral code and sought to keep one of the most distant Ottoman cities from being lost to competing empires. This talk will also illuminate the concepts and teaching of fine and industrial arts in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Islamic world.
Lydia Harrington earned a PhD from Boston University's History of Art & Architecture Department in 2022. Her dissertation analyzed late Ottoman industrial schools in Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut within the context of modern urban planning, Ottoman and Arab nationalisms, educational reform, and industrialization. She is currently turning her dissertation into a book manuscript, with a particular focus on the definitions of and relationship between “art” and “craft.” She has extensive curatorial experience at museums in Boston and research experience at archives and sites in Turkey, Lebanon, the UK, and the US. She also researches and gives walking tours on Boston's former Little Syria neighborhood (today's Chinatown and South End).