Dr. Roxana Coman

Tel: +90 212 293 60 67 / 116
Mail: roxana.coman@rocketmail.com

Dr. Roxana Coman is a researcher working on the topic of Ottoman material culture and private 19th and early 20th century collections in Romania. After graduating with a BA and MA in Art History in the Faculty of History at the University of Bucharest she explored in her PhD the various narratives and representations on what was constructed as Oriental vs Romanian during the second half of the 19th century by using a diversity of sources. Volunteering during her BA and MA studies in the National Museum of Art of Romania, she worked between 2016 and 2022 as a curator and museum educator in the Bucharest Municipality Museum.

After obtaining her PhD in 2016, Roxana Coman continued to research the dynamic between the presence of Ottoman material culture in Wallachia and Moldavia, and the national state of Romania’s strategies to deal with its Ottoman legacy. In this context, she has attended several summer schools such as the Transregional Academy “Shadows of the Empires. Imperial Legacies and Mythologies in Central Eastern Europe”, 14-21 September 2021 in Sofia, Bulgaria, and “The City as Archive. Histories of Collecting and Archiving in and the Musealisation of Florence, Eighteenth Century to the Present”, 18-25 September 2018. She is currently a PostDoc fellow at the Orient-Institut Istanbul and a member of the COST Action EuroWeb: Europe through Textiles: Network for an integrated and interdisciplinary Humanities.

Roxana Coman’s current research project is about Ottoman Imperial legacies and Dimitrie Papazoglu’s collection of Ottoman artefacts. In 1860, Dimitrie Papazoglu (1811-1892) opened a museum in his private residence on Calea Văcărești, no 151, Bucharest. His collection of “antiquities and rarities”, as he called it, gathered over 40 years was at the core of this private museum. Having received formal education in the Habsburg imperial school in Brașov, he retired from the army in 1833. Afterwards, Papazoglu begins dabbling in archaeology and history writing, Alexandru Odobescu’s archaeological campaigns in Romania acting as both a learning environment, and as a source for a part of his collection.

The analysis will focus on the Ottoman/ Oriental artefacts whose occurrence in the collection questions their assigned interpretations by Papazoglu. Moreover, the ambivalent Romanian nationalist discourse pendulating between a systematic discourse of rejection of the Ottoman heritage and an exoticist type of representation challenges a mere aesthetic approach and opens a discussion on issues such as identities in late Ottoman Empire and the creation of a national concept of heritage. Therefore, the project aims to map existent archival records concerning Dimitrie Papazoglu’s biography and collection, and explore the center-periphery dynamic on the issue of the history of collections in the 19th century Ottoman Empire.

Ottoman material culture of the 18th and 19th century

History of private and public collections in Romania and late Ottoman Empire


Romanian and Ottoman Modern Art

Ottoman residential architecture

Romanian nationalism

19.01.2022: “Subjects and agents of Orientalism in 19th century Romania: Carol Popp de Szathmari and Theodor Aman”, Orient-Institut Istanbul, Istanbul.

14.-21.09.2021: “Dealing with a contested past? Ottoman architectural influences in the Romanian countries”. Transregional Academy Shadows of Empires, Sofia.

6.-7.05.2021: “Din oameni ai premodernității în simboluri ale modernității: reprezentările lui Tudor Vladimirescu și Alexandru Ipsilanti”. Date noi în cercetarea artei medievale și premoderne de pe teritoriul României national session, National Museum of Art of Romania, Bucharest.

12.03.2021: “The power of gifts and the gifts of power, PIMo online workshop `Emotion and Memory in Gift Exchanging Practices”`, Nicolae Iorga History Institute, Bucharest.

22.-23.01.2021: “A crackling sound and the smell of burnt wood: Ottoman braziers in Early Modern Romanian countries”. Single-Slide Sohbat, Yale University History of Art Department, online.

2.-6.09.2019: “Balkan merchant houses in the 18th and 19th centuries. From cosmopolitanism to nationalism”, 12th International Congress of South-European Studies. 2-6 September 2019, Bucharest, Romania

18.-25.09.2018: “Memory making and memory keeping: the use of the past in local and national heritage” The City as Archive. Histories of Collecting and Archiving in and the Musealisation of Florence, Eighteenth Century to the Present, Studienkurs/Summer School, Florence.

10/2014: “Oriental representations in Carol Popp de Szathmari’s watercolours: documents from a Western perspective?” 4th International Balkan Annual Conference Turkey and Romania. Historical ties and future collaborations in the Balkans, Bucharest.

09/2013: “Cultural role-play in defining national identities: Romania between East and West”. International Society for Cultural History Annual Conference Artefact, Culture, and Identity, Istanbul.


`Ottoman residential architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries and the Romanian countries. From cosmopolitanism to nationalism`. Revue des Études Sud-Est Européennes, no LIX, 2021, 217-245

`Eros and Thanatos: Instinctual and Emotional Responses to the Plague Epidemic in Ion Ghica’s Letters`. BRUKENTHALIA. Romanian Cultural History Review No.10, Sibiu, 2020, 851-861

`Acculturation through migration in the Romanian countries: Ottoman products and social change`. in Journal of Ottoman Heritage Studies (OMAD), 6/16, Turkey, November 2019, 487-495

`Sense or Sensibility: Emotions between Practice and Intimate Expression in 19th century Romanian Society`. BRUKENTHALIA Romanian Cultural History Review no 7, Sibiu, 2017, 916-924

`Romanian 19th Century Historical Painting and Collective Memory`. Art Readings, 2017, Institute of Art Studies, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2017, 109-118

`The Past in the Present. The case of nineteenth century Romanian Historical Painting`. Time and Culture, Ed Ecaterina Lung, Etienne Bourdon, Christopher Heath, Laurence Shee, Cécile Vallée, Editura Universității din București, 2017, 171-181

`Oriental Representations in Carol Popp de Szathmari’s Watercolours: Documents from a Western Perspective?`. BRUKENTHALIA. Romanian Cultural History Review, no 5, Sibiu, 2015, 713-720

`Le modèle culturel français et le projet identitaire roumain. Représentations de l’Orient dans les discours politiques et dans les actions diplomatiques de la Roumanie (1856-1878)`. Les constructions identitaires dans les espaces francophones d’Europe orientale et d’Afrique, Ed Ecaterina Lung, Yahia Abou el Farah, Corina Iosif, Daniela Zaharia, Simona Corlan, Publications de l’Institut des Etudes Africaines, Rabat, 2015, 355-363

`Romanian Travellers to the East between the Quest for the Exotic and Diplomatic Mission`. in BRUKENTHALIA Romanian Cultural History Review, no 4, Sibiu, 2014, 92-101

Book chapters

`Theodor Aman și ispita orientală`. in Imaginarul. Teorii și aplicații, Ed Prof. Mihaela Pop, Ed. Universității din București, 2011, 344-358

Other publications

“A crackling sound and the smell of burnt wood: Ottoman braziers and the Romanian countries,” Orient-Institut Istanbul Blog, 30 April 2021. https://www.oiist.org/a-crackling-sound-and-the-smell-of-burnt-wood-ottoman-braziers-and-the-romanian-countries/

There and back again: Ottoman Imperial legacies and Dimitrie Papazoglu’s collection of Ottoman artefacts