Melissa Bilal

Visiting Scholar

Education: 

B.A. Sociology, Boğaziçi University
M.A. Sociology, Boğaziçi University
Ph.D. Music, University of Chicago

Melissa Bilal is a Visiting Scholar of History at MIT in Spring 2017. She is collaborating with Lerna Ekmekçioğlu on a project titled Feminism in Armenian which includes an English-language sourcebook and an Armenian-language companion website focusing on twelve prominent Armenian women writers born in the Ottoman Empire. Melissa received her BA and MA in Sociology at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University. She holds a Ph.D. in Music from the University of Chicago. At Columbia University, she was the 2013-2015 Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Music and the Spring 2010 and Spring 2016 Ordjanian Visiting Professor in MESAAS. She taught in Boğaziçi’s History Department in Summer 2015 and 2016. In Fall 2015, she was commissioned by Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv in partnership with the Orient-Institut Istanbul and Lautarchiv of Humboldt University for a project on the recordings made by the Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission in WWI German military camps from Russian Armenian prisoners of war. She worked as a research fellow at the Orient-Institut Istanbul in Fall 2015. Melissa is the co-author of the books Bir Adalet Feryadı, Osmanlı’dan Cumhuriyet’e Beş Ermeni Feminist Yazar (1862–1933) [A cry for justice: Five Armenian feminist writers from the Ottomans to the Republic (1862–1933)] (with Lerna Ekmekçioğlu, 2006) and Gomidas Vartabed: Mektuplar, Tanıklıklar, Müzikolojik Metinler [Gomidas Vartabed: Letters, Memoirs, Musicological Texts] (with Burcu Yıldız, forthcoming 2017). Her research and publication areas include politics of remembrance in Turkey and the critique of neoliberal memory politics in relation to the 1915-1922 Genocide; affective formation and transmission of historical knowledge among Armenians in Turkey; gender, song, and sensual memory within the present-day Armenian community of Istanbul; politics of music, silencing, and the survival of the Armenian song in Republican Turkey; a genealogy of the Armenian lullaby as a gendered genre in early Armenian music ethnography and the revolutionary song repertoire. Some of her related publications are: “The Lost Lullaby and other Stories about being an Armenian in Turkey,” New Perspectives on Turkey 34 (2006): 67-92;  “Longing for Home at Home: Armenians in Istanbul,” Diaspora and Memory. Figures of Displacement in Contemporary Literature, Arts and Politics, Thamyris/Intersecting Diaspora & Memory 13 (2006): 55-66; “Türkiyeli Ermenileri Hatırlamak [Remembering the Armenians of Turkey],” Birikim Aylık Sosyalist Kültür Dergisi [Birikim Monthly Journal of Socialist Culture] 193-194 (2005): 122-125; “Direnişin Şarkısı: Ondokuzuncu Yüzyılda Ermeni Ninnileri [Song of Resistance: Armenian Lullabies in the Nineteenth Century].” In Utanç ve Onur: 1915-2015 Ermeni Soykırımı’nın 100. Yılı [Shame and Pride: 100. Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide], Evrensel Basım Yayın, 2015: 219-235. “Ben De Şimdi Yanıyorum: İstanbullu Ermeni Kadınların Geçmiş Anlatıları ve Ninnileri [And now, I am burning: Lullabies and Narratives of the Past by Armenian Women of Istanbul],” Kültür ve Siyasette Feminist Yaklasımlar [Feminist Approaches in Culture and Politics] October 2015. Melissa is currently working on her manuscript tentatively titled The Wake Up Lullaby: Gender Politics of the Armenian Revolution, which examines the interrelated discourses on gender, sexuality, emotion, culture, music, history, nation, modernity, and land in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Armenian liberation struggles.