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Archaeology and History

Photo of Dr Semih Celik

Dr Semih Celik

Lecturer in the History of Science and Citizenship (Education and Research)


My academic interests fall under the rubric of environmental history and history of science in the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. My research aims on the one hand to locate the Ottoman Empire within global history, on the other hand to contribute to historiography and curricula with non-colonial histories of the environment and science.

I am currently working on my book manuscript titled Climate Change, Famines and Empire-Building in Anatolia c. 1800-1850. The book aims to bring together the outcomes of my PhD and postdoctoral research on the climate change in early nineteenth century Anatolia; the development and institutionalization of scientific approaches to nature - especially the founding of a natural history museum in Istanbul in the 1830s; social and administrative reactions to droughts and famines; and humanitarianism during famines.

More extensively, my research and publications scrutinize human-animal relationship in the early-modern and modern Middle East, networks of scientists and natural history museums, wetlands and the Anthropocene, and history of archaeology. In general, I am concerned with the role different actors played (and continue to play) in understanding and shaping the nature through various environing technologies.

I am interested in developing interdisciplinary methodologies for the analysis of history of climate change. Therefore I am open to collaboration from other disciplines. I also aim to employ digital humanities methodologies in my research.

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My academic interests can be summarized as follows: History of science, environment and medicine c. 1700-1950; famines; natural history museums; history of the Middle East; Ottoman Empire; history of humanitarianism; history of archaeology in the Middle East; natural heritage; history of poverty and charity; digital humanities

Currently I am developing a proposal for a European Research Council (ERC) funding on a project which aims to deepen my research on the first natural history museum of the Ottoman Empire. The project aims to discuss the role of the museum in the global history of science and engagement of different public groups with natural history through the museum.

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2024 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2015 |




  • Celik S, Luke C. (2021) Of Wetlands and Reclamation Regimes: Climate Change, Social Upheaval, and Political Practice in Western Anatolia (1850-1920), Winds of Change: Environment and Society in Anatolia, Koc University Press, 251-276.


  • Celik S. (2020) 'No Work for Anyone in this Country of Misery': Famine and Labour Relations in Mid-Nineteenth Century Anatolia, Working in Greece and Turkey: A Comparative Labour History from Empires to Nation States 1840-1940, Berghahn, 148-173.
  • Celik S. (2020) 'Science, to Understand the Abundance of Plants and Trees’: The First Ottoman Natural History Museum and Herbarium (1834-1848), Environments of Empire. Networks and Agents of Ecological Change, The University of North Carolina Press, 85-102.


  • Celik S. (2019) Coping with Scarcity and Famines in Ottoman Anatolia c. 1650-1850, An Economic History of Famine Resilience, Routledge, 52-73.
  • Celik S. (2019) 'It's a Bad Fate to be Born Near a Forest': Forest, People and Buffaloes in mid-19th Century North-Western Anatolia, in Seeds of Power: Explorations in Ottoman Environmental History, White Horse Press, 111-133.


  • Celik S. (2018) ‘We have Become Refugees in our Own Country’: Mobilizing for Refugees in Istanbul, Solidarity Mobilizations in the ‘Refugee Crisis’ – Contentious Moves, Palgrave Macmillan, 39-64.
  • Celik S, O'Connor F. (2018) Outsiders Twice Over in Kurdistan, Methodological Approaches in Kurdish Studies: Theoretical and Practical Insights from the Field, Lexington Books, 123-145.
  • Celik S. (2018) Sheep go to Heaven, (Angora) Goats go to Hell’: A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Angora Goat Economy in the Province of Ankara (1889-1905), Weaving the History: Mystery of a City, Koc University Press.


  • Celik S. (2015) Between History of Humanitarianism and Humanitarianization of History: A Discussion on Ottoman Help for the Victims of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1852, Werkstatt geschichte, volume 68, pages 13-27.

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External impact and engagement

My research has been published in semi-academic/popular journals and disseminated through other media. I have also been invited to various public talks to present my research to a wider audience in Turkish. 

Most recently, I have been invited by the Turkish Pavilion of the Seventeenth International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, to contribute to their online section with a commentary on the role of the Ottoman natural history museum on the development of a vocabulary defining the various of aspects of human-nature relationship in the nineteenth century (

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Having obtained my BA degree in Political Science and International Relations, and MA degree in History in Istanbul, I moved to Florence to continue my studies at the History and Civilization PhD program in European University Institute. I wrote my PhD dissertation under the co-supervision of Prof. Luca Mola and Prof. Suraiya Faroqhi and defended it in 2017. In October 2016 I started working as a (postdoctoral) research fellow in an ERC project at the Department of History at Koc University, Istanbul. In June 2020 I have been awarded with funding for a 2,5-year project by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) and continued my research and teaching activities at the same department as a PI until I joined the History Department at Exeter in January 2022.

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