Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2004
Department of Geography
Callcott, Room 226
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: (803) 777-5688 Fax: (803) 777-4972
Areas of Interest
Cultural Landscapes and Historical Memory
Place and Identity
Gender and Urban Space
Nationalism and Modernity
Amy Mills was trained as an urban cultural geographer with a master’s degree in Middle East area studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research lies at the intersections of critical human geography, social theory, and interdisciplinary Middle Eastern studies. Her master’s thesis on modernity, public space, and the Greater Cairo Wastewater System developed her interest in the ways in which powerful ideologies are produced and sustained through the organization of urban space. Dr. Mills’s dissertation was based on two years of ethnographic research in Istanbul where she studied the interplay between a nostalgic cultural memory of past neighborhood life and the gentrification of a former minority neighborhood of Istanbul called Kuzguncuk. Her dissertation developed into a larger project on nationalism, memory, and urban space in Istanbul, culminating in Streets of Memory, published by the University of Georgia Press in 2010. Themes addressed in the book include: examining Turkification and Turkish nationalism as local, urban processes; collective memory, popular culture, and gentrification; contested and shared Turkish, Jewish, and Greek memories of neighborhood life and past traumatic events; gender roles, class, and ethnicity in urban life; and ‘actually existing’ cosmopolitanism in the Middle East.
Dr. Mills continues to do research in Turkey. In one project she examines national identity as it was imagined and represented through early and mid-twentieth century textual and visual images of urbanization. She also continues to work on comparative Turkish and non-Muslim minority local and diasporic memories of urban life, in an effort to explore the intraregional connections productive of Istanbul as a place. Her interest in the ways in which Turkish regional identity is imagined through local place narratives and representation has led to a new project on Turkey’s neo-Ottoman reach to the Arab world. Dr. Mills also has a research interest in the history of geographic thought, institutionality, and disciplinary approaches to knowledge creation, and is involved in a project on the discipline of Geography and Middle East area studies in cooperation with the Social Science Research Council. She is herself an interdisciplinary scholar and teacher, and: has collaborated with social historians on a special issue on the Ottoman Legacy of Comparative Studies of South Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; is working with archaeology students and participating in a discussion panel on landscape theory at the SHA annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology; consulted with architectural historians and building archaeologists working on a historic project in Tripoli, Lebanon; was an invited participant in international interdisciplinary workshops on cosmopolitanism and on gender and urban space in the Middle East. She is also nationally active in Geography as a manuscript reviewer for several geography journals and for the National Science Foundation, has organized panels and discussions at geography conferences, is collaborating currently on writing projects with other geographers, and has held leadership positions in the Middle East North Africa and Political Geography Specialty Groups of the Association of American Geographers. Her research has been funded by various sources, including the University of South Carolina, the University of Kentucky, the Institute of Turkish Studies, and Fulbright-Hays.
Recent Professional Funding and Honors
2012. American Research Institute in Turkey. “Istanbul in Satirical Images: Modernity, Urban Social Geography, and National Identity in Republican Era Turkey.” Funding for summer research.
2012. Josephine Abney Faculty Fellowship for Research in Women's and Gender Studies. University of South Carolina. “National Modernity, Urban Order, and Representations of Women in the Satirical Press of Republican Era Turkey.” Funding for summer research.
2011. Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Foundation Book Award for Streets of Memory. “This award recognizes an outstanding book that exhibits excellence in addressing issues of urban communication. It is named in honor of the late social activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”
2011. Breakthrough Rising Star. University of South Carolina. Office of Research and Graduate Education. “This designation is reserved for promising faculty who are engaged in the kind of innovative research or creative scholarly pursuits that will likely propel them to the top of their fields.”
2010. Walker Institute of International Studies Faculty Research Grant. University of South Carolina. (supplemented by the Department of Geography): Summer research. Local cultural perceptions and regional affiliations in the context of Turkey’s “neo-Ottoman” reach to the Arab world. Research in Turkey and Lebanon.
2008. International Summer Academy. “Living Together: Plurality and Cosmopolitanism in the Ottoman Empire and Beyond” Sponsored by the German Orient-Institute Istanbul; the Center for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin; Aga Khan University in London; and the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden.
Mills, A. 2012. "Critical Place Studies, Middle East Histories: Power, Politics, and Social Change" History Compass. 10(10): 778-788.
Mills, A.. 2011. “The Ottoman Legacy: Urban Geographies, National Imaginaries, and Global Discourses of Tolerance” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. 31(1): 183-195.
Reilly, J., A. Mills and C. Philliou. 2011. “The Ottoman Past: Memory, Ideology, and Worldview” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. 31(1): 133-136.
Mills, A.. 2011. “Constructing American Academic Knowledge of the Middle East” Connections and Ruptures: America and the Middle East. Conference Proceedings. Center for American Studies and Research, American University in Beirut. pp. 407-418.
Mills, A. 2010. Streets of Memory: Landscape, Tolerance, and National Identity in Istanbul. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
Mills, A.. 2008 "The Place of Locality for Identity in the Nation: Minority Narratives of Cosmopolitan Istanbul" International Journal of Middle East Studies 40(3): 383-401.
Mills, A.. 2007. "Gender and Mahalle (Neighbourhood) Space in Istanbul", Gender, Place and Culture 14(3): 335-354.
Mills, A.. 2006. "Boundaries of the Nation in the Space of the Urban: Landscape and Social Memory in Istanbul", Cultural Geographies, 13(3): 367-394.
Mills, A.. 2006. "Reading Narratives in City Landscapes: Cultural Identity in Istanbul" Special issue: Geographical Dimensions of the New Middle East. Geographical Review, 95(3): 441-462.
Mills, A.. 2006. "Ilya'nin Bostanini Korumak: Kuzguncuk'ta Bir Mahalle 'Landscape'i Ozlemini Gerceklestirmek' [Saving Ilya’s Garden: Realizing Desires for a Neighborhood Landscape in Kuzguncuk] in: Istanbul'da Soylulastirma: Eski Kentin Yeni Sakinleri [Gentrification in Istanbul: An Old City's New Residents], D. Behar and T. Islam, eds. Institut Francais d'Etudes Anatoliennes. Istanbul: Bilgi University Publications. pp.87-98.
Mills, A.. 2003. "Geography". Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures. Vol. 1. Methodologies, Paradigms and Sources. Suad Joseph, editor. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 335-340.