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Imperial Networks from the Sixteenth-Century Habsburg House in Constantinople

Monday, November 12, 2018, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

ABSTRACT | What happens when a multi-lingual and religiously diverse group of men from across the Holy Roman Empire and Habsburg ruled territories live together in a foreign environment? How do these men commemorate their fleeting social networks on paper? How do these networks relate to those they are imbedded in back home? What drives their impulse to collect, create, and curate? This talk introduces a set of fifty personal albums collected by residents of the Habsburg ambassador’s “German House” in Constantinople. These curated collections of decorated paper, costume book images, and album amicorum signatures offer a window onto the informal social and bureaucratic structures that held the Habsburg empire together in the second half of the sixteenth century. It discusses the unique methodological issues of dealing with such rich but highly problematic historical data sets while raising questions about historical deterritorialization, imperial belonging, and the possibilities of collaborative research on the micro and macro levels with the help of network science.

BIO | Robyn is a historian of Habsburg Central Europe and its imperial entanglements across internal and external borders (1450–1800). She specializes in the study of administrative institutions, scribal practices, book cultures, military conflicts, and material culture. She has published articles and chapters on costume books, arms and armor, dress and identity, Habsburg-Ottoman diplomacy, and the circulation of information on city streets and at imperial courts. Robyn has also worked in several international and local museums with whom she continues to maintain strong ties. In both teaching and research, Robyn seeks to combine perspectives from art history with a primary-source-based historical method rooted in both Continental and Anglo-American traditions.