Director of the School of Art & Art History
Associate Professor of Art History
Building & Room:
Jefferson Hall 106
929 West Harrison Street, MC 201
Ömür Harmansah’s current research focuses on the history of landscapes in the Middle East and the politics of ecology, place, and heritage in the age of the Anthropocene. As an archaeologist and an architectural historian of ancient Western Asia (a.k.a. the Near East), Harmansah specializes in the art, architecture, and material culture of Anatolia, Syria, and Mesopotamia during the Bronze and Iron Ages. His earlier research focused on cities, the production of architectural and urban space, critical studies of place and landscape, building technologies and architectural knowledge, and image-making practices in the urban and rural environments. He is the author of two monographs, Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East, (Cambridge University Press, 2013), and Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments (Routledge, 2015). He also edited the volume Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place (Oxbow Books, 2014) and co-edited Scribbling Through History: Graffiti, Places, and People from Antiquity to Modernity (Bloomsbury, 2018). He is one of the authors of the new global art history survey textbook The History of Art: A Global View. Prehistory to the Present (Thames & Hudson, 2021). For other publications, please consult his academia page.
Harmansah co-directed (with Dr. Peri Johnson) Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project, a diachronic regional survey and landscape archaeology project addressing questions of the politics of water and borderlands in Konya Province of west-central Turkey (2010-2021). This project was supported by a major Post-PhD grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Humanities Without Walls Consortium, Suna-İnan Kıraç Foundation Research Center on Mediterranean Civilizations, The Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award at Brown University, and the School of Art and Art History at UIC. Results of this long-term field project are being prepared for publication in the form of a multi-authored monograph.
Harmansah was the Lead Principal Investigator for the 3-year multi-institutional collaborative project entitled “Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene” (2017-2019). This project was supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This project included a master class and a symposium with Bruno Latour in October-November 2017. The project was concluded with the exhibition All have the same breath held at Gallery 400 (January 18-March 9, 2019)
Harmansah is currently working on a new monograph on landscape history and political ecology in the Middle East, addressing the challenges brought about by the debates around the Anthropocene, climate change, and environmental crisis, with emphasis on landscape archaeology and archaeological field practice. This monograph, tentatively titled Landscapes of the Anthropocene: Archaeology, Politics, and Heritage in the Middle East (under contract with Routledge), brings together fieldwork-based insights from current debates in new materialism and political ecology to discuss the precarity of archaeological landscapes and cultural heritage under the impact of late capitalism.
Born and raised in Turkey, Harmansah studied architecture and architectural history at the Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), and received his PhD from University of Pennsylvania in the History of Art (2005). He previously taught at Reed College (Portland, OR) and Brown University (Providence, RI) before joining the faculty at UIC’s School of Art & Art History in 2014. He received various sabbatical and research awards, including Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations Senior Fellowship (twice, 2009-2010 and 2019-2020), Brown University’s Cogut Center for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship (Fall 2012), and University of Texas at Austin’s Donald D. Harrington Faculty Research Fellowship (2013-2014). He was elected as a “Rising Star” in Art, Architecture, and the Humanities in 2016 by UIC's Office of the Vice Chancellor.
- AH 110 World History of Art and the Built Environment I [Online, prerecorded lectures with in-person discussion sections] [Syllabus]
- AH 140 World Architecture, Climate, and Ecology
- HUM 101 Humanities Core: The Politics of Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East (Engaged Humanities Initiative First Year Seminar). [Syllabus]
- AH 209 Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (crosslisted with Classics and Mediterranean Studies)
- AH 211 Cities and Festivals: Architectural Practice and Urban Space in the Ancient Near East [Syllabus]
- AH 266 Architecture and Memory: Ancient Monuments, Modern Memorials
- AH 466 Material Worlds: Topics in Material Culture Studies (crosslisted with Classics and Mediterranean Studies and Anthropology) [Syllabus]
- AH 522 Political Ecologies: Perspectives on Nature, Place, and Heritage
- AH 522 Pain, Suffering, Violence and Visual Media (crosslisted with Art and IDEAs; co-taught with Beate Geissler) [Syllabus]
- AH 522 Body Performance, and Architectural Space in the Ancient Near Eastern World [Syllabus]
Dissertations and Theses advised at UIC
- Deanna Ledezma, PhD Dissertation in Art History: “The Fecundity of Family Photography: Histories, Identities, Archival Relations.” Spring 2022. (Co-Chair of Dissertation Committee and Co-Advisor with Jonathan Mekinda)
- Pınar Üner Yılmaz, PhD Dissertation in Art History: “An Analysis of Global Curatorial Methods: The Emergence and Crystallization of Istanbul Biennials.” Spring 2018. (Co-Chair of Dissertation Committee and Co-Advisor with Esra Akcan)
- Sarah Ahmed, MA Thesis in Art History: "Repurposing Residuals: Art, Material, & Memory in the Long War on Terror" Spring 2022 (Co-Chair of Thesis Committee and Co-Advisor with Ronak Kapadia)
- Mariam Usmani, MA Thesis in Museum and Exhibition Studies: “Representations of the Body in Pain: Antiquities, the Enlightenment and the Pageantry of Museums.” Fall 2016. (Main Advisor and Chair of Master’s Thesis Committee)
Humanities Without Walls Consortium, "Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene" (2017-2019), Lead Principal Investigator
Wenner Gren Foundation, "Holocene and Anthropocene Landscapes in Anatolia: The Political Ecology of Water in the Hittite Borderlands" (2019-2020), Principal Investigator
University of Illinois at Chicago, Awards for Creative Activity in the Arts and the Humanities, "Chicago River Campus" (2020-2021), Co-PI
Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.
Edited volumes (Anthologies)
Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place. Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2014.
Chloé Ragazzoli, Elizabeth Frood, Ömür Harmanşah, Chiara Salvador (eds). 2018. Scribbling Through History: Graffiti, Places, and People from Antiquity to Modernity. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
Contribution to Multi-Authored Volumes
The History of Art: A Global View. Prehistory to the Present. London and New York: Thames & Hudson publishers. By Jean Robertson, Deborah Hutton, Cynthia S. Colburn, Ömür Harmanşah, Eric Kjellgren, Rex Koontz, De-nin D. Lee, Henry Luttikhuizen, Allison Lee Palmer, Stacey Sloboda, Monica Blackmun Visonà; 2021. ISBN: 978-0-500-84431-1
Mapping Augustan Rome. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement Series No. 50. 41. Lothar Haselberger; David G. Romano & Elisha Dumser (eds.). Portsmouth, RI, 2002. ISBN-10 :1887829504 ISBN-13 : 978-1887829502
2022. “The Archaeology of Hittite Landscapes: A view from the Southwestern Borderlands” Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 10.1 (February 2022) 1-48. Co-authored with Peri Johnson, Müge Durusu Tanrıöver, and Ben Marsh.
2021. “Mountains as Connected Landscapes of Alterity: Boz Mountain Range and its piedmont.” In The Archaeology of Anatolia Volume IV: Recent Discoveries (2018-2020), Sharon R. Steadman and Gregory McMahon, eds. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 287-299, with Peri Johnson, Shannon Martino, Müge Durusu Tanrıöver and Ben Marsh.
2021. “Deep time and landscape history in the Anthropocene: How can historical particularity be translated?” in Timescales: Thinking Across Ecological Temporalities. Bethany Wiggin, Carolyn Fornoff, and Patricia Eunji Kim (eds.). University of Minnesota Press, 39-53.
2019. “Cities, the Underworld and the Infrastructure: The Ecology of Water in the Hittite World.” In New Materialisms, Ancient Urbanisms. Susan M. Alt and Timothy R. Pauketat, editors. London and New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 218-244.
2019. “Visualizing the Moon in the Ancient Near East,” in The Moon: A voyage Through Time. Christiane Gruber (ed.). Exhibition Catalogue. Toronto: Aga Khan Museum, 8-14.
2019. “Rock Reliefs and Landscape Monuments” in A Companion to Ancient Near Eastern Art (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Ann C. Gunter (ed). Malden MA: Wiley Blackwell, 483-505.
2019. “The Political Ecology of Roads and Movement: The Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Research Project 2018 Season” In The Archaeology of Anatolia: Recent Discoveries (2017-2018) Volume III, SR. Steadman and G. McMahon, eds. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 193-204. [Co-authored with Peri Johnson]
2018. “Geologies of Belonging: The Political Ecology of Water in Central Anatolia” in Water and Power in Past Societies. Emily Holt (ed.). Suny Series, the Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph. Buffalo, NY: State University of New York Press, 259-277.
2018. “Graffiti or Monument? Inscription of Place at Anatolian Rock Reliefs.” In Scribbling Through History: Graffiti, Places, and People from Antiquity to Modernity. Chloé Ragazzoli, Elizabeth Frood, Ömür Harmanşah, Chiara Salvador (eds). London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 49-63.
2017. “Borders are Rough-hewn: Monuments, Local Landscapes and the Politics of Place in a Hittite Borderland” in Bordered Places ǀ Bounded times – Interdisciplinary perspectives on Turkey, edited by Emma Baysal and Leonidas Karakatsanis. London: British Institute at Ankara Monograph 51, 37-51.
2015. “ISIS, Heritage, and the Spectacles of Destruction in the Global Media” Near Eastern Archaeology 78.3: 170-177.
Service to Community
- Archaeological Institute of America Governing Board, Academic Trustee (2021-2023)
- Archaeological Dialogues (Cambridge University Press) Associate Editor
- Delegate to American Research Institute in Turkey for the University of Illinois. (2019-present)
- State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission Member, pursuant to Section 42-45-2 of Rhode Island General Laws. Appointed by Lincoln Chafee, Governor and the Senate on March 12, 2013. Term expired June 1, 2014.
B.Arch, Middle East Technical University
MA, Middle East Technical University, History of Architecture
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, History of Art
2022. “Surveying two Hittite cities in the Southwestern borderlands” Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting January 5-8, 2022. San Francisco Session 1B: Anatolian Archaeology. Co-authored with Peri Johnson.
2021 ‘ISIS and the Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria” Archaeological Institute of America, Lincoln/Omaha Chapter, Harald Ingholt Lecture in Middle Eastern Archaeology. , October 3, 2021
2021 "The Archaeology of Anatolian Landscapes: Politics of Water and Ecology in the Hittite Borderlands” Archaeological Institute of America, Central Pennsylvania Chapter. 11 April 2021
2020. “Landscape, Deep Time, Fieldwork, and Salvage: Towards an Archaeological Vocabulary in the Anthropocene”. Columbia University, Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Social and Economic Policy. Franz Boas Seminar, February 26, 2020.
2020. “The relationship between archaeology and heritage in the Middle East” in Critical Debates in the Archaeology of the Middle East. British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology Annual Meeting, The University of Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum, January 9-11, 2020.
2019 “Ruined Gardens of Babylon: Dark Ecology and Heritage Politics in the Anthropocene” Archaeological Institute of America Richmond Virginia Chapter. Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology. University of Richmond. October 3, 2019. New Orleans LA Chapter, September 30, 2019.
2019 “Iconoclasm or a Spectacle of Destruction? The politics of heritage violence in ISIS's visual regime” Archaeological Institute of America Tallahassee Florida Chapter. Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology. Florida State University. October 1, 2019. Benedictine University, 2019 Sonntag Distinguished Art Scholar, Komechak Art Gallery, April 7, 2019.
2019 “Hittite Past, Water Cult, and the Archaeological Landscapes of South Central Anatolia” Archaeological Institute of America Central Illinois Society, Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. September 9, 2018.
2019 “Heritage Landscapes as Disposable Landscapes: Destruction of Islamic heritage in Ilgın (Konya)” Heritage, World Heritage, and the Future: Perspectives on Scale, Conservation, and Dialogue, held at Koç University, Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED), 5-6 December 2019. Co-authored with Peri Johnson.
2019 “From Thing-Politics to Place-Politics: Fieldwork in the Anthropocene” Theoretical Archaeology Group 2019 Meeting Syracuse, New York, May 3-5, 2019. Paper presented in the session “Session 024: Intersections: the philosophy and poetics of excavating and field practices” organized by Yannis Hamilakis and Eva Mol.
2019 “Stories of Water, Landscape, and Climate: Fieldwork lessons from Konya, Turkey.” All have the same breath: Symposium for Political Ecology as Practice. March 1-2, 2019. The University of Illinois at Chicago.
2018 “The Subject of Suffering in Uncivilized Times: The Politics of Violence in ISIS’s Visual Regime” 2018 Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS) Symposium, Heritage and the Visual Archive. Session: Violence and Image, Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ. April 27th, 2018.
2018 "Cities, the Underworld and the Infrastructure: The Political Ecology and Archaeology of Water in Hittite Anatolia.” University of Louisville, Department of Anthropology. March 29, 2018.
2018 “Poetics of Architectonics, Politics of Stone: Ashlar Masonry in the Borderlands of the Hittite Empire,” ASHLAR: Exploring the Materiality of Cut Stone Masonry in the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age. International workshop organized by AegIS (UCLouvain-INCAL-CEMA) and the ARC ‘A World in Crisis’. Louvain-la-Neuve, Musée L, March 8-9, 2018.
2018 “Remotely Sensing: Ethics of Fieldwork, Military Technologies, and Archaeological Practice” University of Glasgow, School of Humanities, Archaeology Research Seminar Series, February 5, 2018.
2018 “Rethinking the Syro-Anatolian koiné: Carved orthostats and architectural experimentation in Early Phrygian Gordion.” In The Connected Iron Age; Interregional Networks in the Eastern Mediterranean 900-600 BCE. University of Chicago, January 12-13, 2018. Organized by James Osborne and Jonathan Hall.
Research Currently in Progress
Artistic and Professional Performances and Exhibits
All have the same breath, Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago Campus. January 18-March 9, 2019.