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Secil Binboga

Current Student—Ph.D in Architecture

Secil Binboga

Specialization: History and Theory
Advisor: Andrew Herscher, Will Glover

Binboga is a PhD candidate in the Architectural History and Theory Program. She holds a B.Arch and an M.Arch from the Middle East Technical University. Her research interests center on the relationship between Cold War development projects and transformation of landscapes and waterscapes with a geographical focus on the making of the Middle East. In her dissertation project, she aims to assemble a spatial history of modern Turkey by looking at three key development projects, conducted by the IBRD and FAO, under the auspices of the U.S. Mission in Turkey: a soil survey map, a hydro-engineering project, and a port reconstruction plan. Her research focuses on cultural and ecological landscapes of an eastern Mediterranean setting, known as “Çukurova” (ancient Cilicia), in an effort to trace the ideological and economic dynamics that accompanied Turkey’s assimilation into both the “new Middle East” and the American sphere of influence. Exploring a large corpus of textual and visual documents, including governmental correspondence, maps, photographs, feasibility/construction reports, and urbanization surveys at archives in both Turkey and the U.S., Binboga aims to show how such practices like mapping, surveying, and infrastructural design fundamentally altered human-environment relations, and re-shaped the meaning of nature and space.

Fellowships and Awards:

  • 2018-2019: The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan
  • 2018 Spring: The Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute
  • 2016-2017: International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council
  • 2016: The Rackham International Student Fellowship, University of Michigan
  • 2015: The International Institute Individual Fellowship, University of Michigan
  • 2015: Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, Social Science Research Council       
  • 2014: The Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant


  • “Tectonics of Development: The Cold War Politics of Spatial Expertise in Turkey,” The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) 51st Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., November 2017.
  • “The Politics of Scale in Cold War Turkey: Mapping Soil and Engineering Development,” TürkeiEuropaZentrum (TEZ) Environmental History of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, University of Hamburg, Germany, October 2017.
  • “Unsettled Geographies: The Cold War Politics of Space-Making and Scale-Making in Turkey.” 16th Annual Southwest Graduate Conference in MENA Studies: Re-envisioning Boundaries: Navigating Society, Culture and Sovereignties. Tucson, Arizona. April 2016.
  • “Actualization of History: Image of the Street in Revolt.” The Comparative Literature Intra-Student Faculty Forum Conference: LEFTovers: What's L/left of Literature and Critical Theory in the 21st Century? Ann Arbor, Michigan. March 2015.
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