Dr. Esther Voswinckel Filiz

Tel: +90 212 293 60 67 / 131
Mail: voswinckel@oiist.org

Esther Voswinckel Filiz studied Cultural Anthropology and religious studies in Bologna and Tübingen, with a focus on the anthropology of religion in the Mediterranean. For her doctoral thesis entitled “Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi in Istanbul. Biography of a Place” at the Centre for Religious Studies (CERES) of Ruhr-Universität Bochum, submitted in June 2020, she conducted field research in Üsküdar for several years. Her research focuses on the material culture of Sufism in Istanbul, on the historical and contemporary aesthetics of saint’s tombs (türbe) and on portable and textile paraphernalia therein.

Since June 2020 she has been a researcher at Orient-Institut Istanbul responsible for the research field “Religious History of Anatolia”.

Anthropology of religion in the Mediterranean

Religious architecture

History of religion in Istanbul after 1925

Sufi garments and Ottoman turban literature (tâcname)

object biographies

DOKU/Threads of Tradition” (working title): textile devotionalia and their vitality in Istanbul’s religious urban fabric


Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi in Istanbul – Biographie eines Ortes. Istanbuler Texte und Studien 48. Ergon Verlag, Baden-Baden, 2022.


“Turban” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/khamseen/glossary/2023/turban/

(with Semih Ceyhan): Headgear“. Brill Handbook of Sufi Material Culture (submitted for publication).

“Sufi Turbans in Istanbul – the Textile and Textual Production of the Tâc-ı Șerîf. The Politics of Dress and Identity in Eastern Mediterranean Societies, Past and Present. Edited by Rosita D’Amora and Tineke Rooijakkers. Leiden/London (Forthcoming 2023).

“Der kreisende Himmel über Konya. Tranceriten der Sufis zwischen Universum und Untergrund. Ein Feldbericht. Begeisterung und Blasphemie, Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 2/2015. Edited by Martin Zillinger and Erhard Schüttpelz. Bielefeld. 139-143.

“Looking Inside. The Windows of Sufi Saint Shrines in Istanbul. Kunstlicht. Journal for Visual Arts and Architecture 1 (2014). Amsterdam. 126-141. 


Bigelow, Anna (Ed.):  Islam Through Objects. London et al: Bloomsbury (Bloomsbury Studies in Material Religion), 2021. Die Welt des Islams 63 (2023) 127–144. doi:10.1163/15700607-20220002.

Kreinath, Jens (Ed.): The Anthropology of Islam Reader, London/New York: Routledge, 2012. Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 65(1), 2013. Leiden/Boston. 79-81.


“Threads of Tradition: Textile practices and material culture of Sufism in Istanbul. Some field notes”. Orient-Institut Istanbul Blog, 4 June 2021. https://www.oiist.org/threads-of-tradition/

Voswinckel Filiz, Esther. >Saint Anthony’s Bread< in Istanbul and >Problem-Solving Chickpeas< in Iran: July’s Religion-Related Research Get-Together Dedicated to Food and Religion“ Orient-Institut Istanbul Blog, 14 August 2020. https://www.oiist.org/saint-anthonys-bread-in-istanbul-and-problem-solving-chickpeas-in-iran-julys-religion-related-research-get-together-dedicated-to-food-and-religio/

Other publications

Voswinckel Filiz, Esther. „Eis tin pólin. Istanbul bir geçişler coğrafyası.“ Turkish Airlines Empathy 1 (2019). Istanbul. 114-117. 

30.05.2022 (with Salih Demirtaş): Chair of the workshop Experience of a City: Multisensorial Approaches to Past and Present. Orient-Institut Istanbul, online. 

27.05.2022: „Fäden und Fährten des Religiösen: Teilnehmende Beobachtung der islamischen Heiligenverehrung in Istanbul“. 10. Symposion Religion & Psychoanalyse. Spiritualität und das Unbewusste. Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft. 27 – 28 May, 2022, Munich.

10.02.2022: Organization and chairing of the panel: „Ziyāra Revisited: Explorations of the Multisensorial and Material Dimensions of Pilgrimage in Iran and Beyond“. IRSSC Closing Conference. Orient-Institut Istanbul (online).

22.10.2021: “Meftune Hanım’s Threads: Textile Entanglements of Sufism in Istanbul.” International Conference Entangled Sufism in (Post-) Ottoman Europe. Cross-Disciplinary Approaches. Vienna, 21.-23.10.2021 (online). 

18.06.2021: “The Materiality of Sufi Saint Shrines in Istanbul: The Case of the Türbe of Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi (1541-1628) in Üsküdar.” International Workshop Materialities of Everyday Religiosity: Historical and Contemporary Dynamics in Turkey and Iran. 17.-20.6. 2021 (online).

17.03.2021:  “Textile Belongings of a Sufi Saint in Istanbul”. Virtual Islamic Art History Seminar Series (online). 

16. 11. 2020: “On the Other Shore: The Things of a Sufi Saint in Istanbul”. Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes (online). 

24.09.2020: “A landscape of tastes and melodies: aşure distribution at Istanbul’s tekkes”. Workshop The Ingredients of Aşure, Orient-Institut Istanbul (online).

22.06.2020: “Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi in Istanbul – Biographie eines Ortes”. Orient-Institut Istanbul Research Colloquium.

29.10.2019: “Collecting Thread Ends. Some Introductory Remarks”. Threads of Tradition – Textile Metaphors: a Workshop with Prof. Dr. Tim Ingold. CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum. 

18.10. 2019: “The tâç in Ottoman Sufi culture: literature, design, symbolism and ritual.” With Prof. Dr. Semih Ceyhan (Marmara University). Conference The Sacred Patrimony of Sufism: Architecture, Objects and Symbols from the Maghreb to China. IFEA/CNRS/ Orient-Institut Istanbul.

04.05.2019: “Holy places of Sufism in Istanbul: the saint’s tomb as a threshold.” Seminar Holiness. Threshold of the “proximity” of the divine to the human and of the human to the divine. Dost-I (Domenican Study Istanbul (1.-5. Mai 2019).

28.10.2018: Workshop “Religiöse Praxen als alternative Ressourcen im Kontext gesellschaftlichen Umbruchs”. Conference Unsere Zeit denken: Interkulturelle Gegenwartsanalysen und Handlungsperspektiven. Akademie der Diözese Rottenburg-Stuttgart (26.-28.10.2018).

13.05. 2016: “Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi in Istanbul – Ethnographie eines Ortes”. Materialwerkstatt/Research Colloquium a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities, Universität zu Köln.

25.03.2016: “Sufi Turbans  in Istanbul – the Textile and Textual Production of Ritual Headgear at Saintly Gravesites.” Conference The Politics of Dress and Identiy in Eastern Mediterranean Societies, Past and Present. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/University of Salento. Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam (24.-26.3.2016).