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  • Inheritance / disavowal: Commemorating and representing the nation-state in Turkey from empire to republic, 1908-1940s

Ozguner, Artun, 2020, Thesis, Inheritance / disavowal: Commemorating and representing the nation-state in Turkey from empire to republic, 1908-1940s PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This study aims to understand the role of urban spatial commemorative culture and their diffusion via print practices for the representation of the nation-state in Turkey, between 1908 and the 1940s. Encompassing three major phases in Turkish history (the protonationalist revolution of 1908, the republican nation-building after WWI and the more liberal tendencies in the post-WWII era) the period studied is testimony to a major shift from an empire to a modern nation-state.

Accounts of political history on the state culture of the period often emphasize the role of a top-down transformation in politics in explaining the arrival of secular republican culture. This thesis indicates, however, to the agency of a cultural revolution in changing the values of the society, through a plethora of modern material devices such as print media, monuments, electric illumination, illustrated journals, and photography. When these are observed through the gradual nationalisation of the cosmopolitan network of designers, artists, and publishers, the period seems to have accommodated a more disparate use of modernism than the monolithic tone, political history often suggests.

This study focuses specifically on the redefinition of the spatial memory landscape through the construction of monuments and the orchestration of commemorative events, along with attempts to diffuse these as a cohesive narrative through print media, first in the efforts of the Ottoman modernizers, the Young Turk elite and later by its republican successor under the aegis of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. While print culture affords the permeation of these new memory landscapes through postcards, stamps, illustrated journals, newspapers, and banknotes, the very materiality of these artefacts reveals the tensions between politics, design resources, and technologies at hand. Hence, a close attention to the agency of monuments in commemorative events and their representation in print demonstrates how the transition to a nation-state was made to operate by the ruling political elite through the endorsement of some inherited legacies and the disavowal of others. Thus, a corollary amnesia was evident both in the practices of the Young Turk modernizers between 1908 and 1923 and their republican successors from the early 1920s on, as they approached design as a material tool for the self-assertion of national modernity.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V390 History by Topic not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2020 16:41
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2020 16:41
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4526
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