Elvan Cobb


      Post-doctoral Fellow, The University of Hong Kong
      PhD in History of Architecture and Urbanism, Cornell University
      Masters in Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania


      Elvan Cobb is a historian of the built environment, whose work engages with histories of technology, archaeology, travel, environment and the senses. Elvan explores how modernization projects generate new and altered experiences of space, especially in western Asia. Her work specifically investigates how space is produced, transformed, and practiced through the implementation of large-scale infrastructure. Her dissertation, Railway Crossings: Encounters in Ottoman Lands, focuses on the production of railway spaces in Anatolia, constructed under concessions given to British entrepreneurs during the second half of the 19th century. This research emphasizes the impact of railways on quotidian spatial practices.

      Elvan engages in multiple field projects in Turkey, Armenia and Laos to better contextualize the material evidence. Her research combines archival sources, oral histories and architectural surveys to elucidate 19th and 20th century histories of place. This work not only informs current dynamics of place, but also illuminates the diachronic activation of space. This connection between past and present is central to much of Elvan’s work and especially informs her cultural heritage practice.  Fieldwork grounds her scholarship and ensures engagement and knowledge transfer with multiple communities.

      Elvan currently serves on the editorial team of the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.  Previously, Elvan was a junior research fellow at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in Istanbul and was the recipient of a SALT Research Award in 2015. She has taught at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University and Koç University.


      Room 214, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong
      Tel: (852) 3917-8108
      Fax: (852) 2559-6143

      Selected Publications

      Articles and Book Chapters:

      “Traveling in Numbers: Telling Stories with Western Anatolian Railway Records.” in Technology-in-Use in the Late Ottoman Empire. In preparation.

      “Re-scripting Ottoman Lands through Infrastructure: the Railroads of Western Anatolia.” in The Built Environment through the Colonial Press. Ashgate. In preparation.

      “Mixing Time: Ancient‐Modern Intersections along the Western Anatolian Railways.” In Producing Non-Simultaneity – Construction Sites as Places of Progressiveness and Continuity, edited by Eike-Christian Heine and Christoph Rauhut. 2018. Ashgate.

      “Learning Vicariously: Tourism, Orientalism and the Making of an Architectural Photography Collection of Egypt.” Architectural Histories 5(1): 2 (2017): 1-10.

      “Politics of Place in the Middle East and the World Heritage Status of Jerusalem.” In Sacred Precincts: Non-Muslim Religious Sites in Islamic Territories, edited by Mohammad Gharipour. 2014. Brill.