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(Re)construction of Turkish National Identity in Urban Space: Transformation of Istanbul's Panorama under JDP Rule
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies (SUITS).
2019 (English)In: Nation-Building and Turkish Modernization: Islam, Islamism, and Nationalism in Turkey / [ed] Rasim Özgür Dönmez, Ali Yaman, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2019, p. 233-254Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article explores the transformation of Turkey’s national and state identity under Justice and Development Party (JDP) rule in a spatial perspective by focusing on the counter hegemonic war on İstanbul’s panorama. (Re)construction of urban space have been used as means of transforming the ideologies into a concrete form and consolidating the symbolic power of the state in the everyday life. Urban space is not a static but dynamic “lieux de memoire” (the sites of memory) which reproduces the past, constructs the “new” and reflects state-society relations.  The new Republic of 1923 used space-politics to create a Westernized, modern and secular nation-state by detaching the urban space from the traces of Ottoman past. (Re)naming and (re)construction by using specific symbols and modern architecture was operated by Kemalists not only to consolidate the new state identity but also to transform the society. However, counter hegemonic attacks towards Kemalist policies which lays behind the two main political cleavages, modernists vs. traditionalists and Islamists vs. seculars, has existed throughout the Republican history. Beginning from 1980s, rising with the identity politics in 1990s Islamic politics has consolidated its power under the rule of JDP since 2002. While the hegemony of Kemalist secularism has been strongly weakened; the visibility of Islamists in the society and public life has increased in JDP era and a new form of state identity is created with the support of mass media, architectural designs, Islamic arts as well as discursive practices. Istanbul, with its symbolic, geographic and economic significance, would be a compatible field to explain the transformation of Turkey’s national and state identity in the urban space. As a capital of Ottoman Empire and the biggest metropolitan city of Turkey, İstanbul has been the center of hegemonic wars on urban space; each political group who hold the power has tried to redesign İstanbul throughout the Republican history. JDP revitalized the İstanbul’s symbolic power by attributing it as a “de facto” capital of Turkey. İstanbul’s transformation in the last decade such as construction of Panorama 1453 Museum as a reviving the Conquest of Istanbul, the boom in the mosque construction and Çamlıca Mosque Project, using Ottoman symbols in the public buildings and landscaping; and renaming the Boğaziçi Bridge as “July 15 Martyrs Bridge” are some crucial samples of ideological using of space politics. All in all, this article argues that JDP redefined the national and state identity as well as citizenship and used urban space as a means of consolidating its ideology. The article explains how Islamism, neo-Ottomanism and latest increasing Turkish nationalism are combined in the state identity and serve as the main pillars of nation building process under JDP rule. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2019. p. 233-254
Keywords [en]
Ak Party, architecture, everyday life, founding moment, governance, hegemony, identity formation, ideology, Islamism, Istanbul, JDP, Kemalism, landscape, memory, modernism, museums, narratives, nation building, national history, national identity, nationalism, Ottomanism, political cleavages, religion, renaming, secularism, state, state identity, symbolic politics, urban politics, westernization
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-173208ISBN: 9781498579391 (print)ISBN: 9781498579407 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-173208DiVA, id: diva2:1351764
Available from: 2019-09-16 Created: 2019-09-16 Last updated: 2019-09-16Bibliographically approved

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