Mobilising Myth: Istanbul as Ottoman-Islamic city

Authors: Oznur Sahin*, Western Sydney University
Topics: Political Geography, Qualitative Methods, Middle East
Keywords: place myth, built environment, staging of events, Istanbul
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines how politics is aestheticised performatively and symbolically in relation to the fabric of the city by focusing on the socio-political and spatial aspects of celebrations and commemorations in Istanbul. The AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi–Justice and Development Party) government mobilises the myth of Istanbul as Ottoman-Islamic city to produce and control socio-spatial practices and political actions. The Islamic nature of Istanbul, the former Imperial city, with its Ottoman mosques, tombs and buildings in the composition of its landscape, is essential to the AKP’s politics. From planting tulips, the flower that decorated Ottoman gardens and arts, to Panorama Museum, where the Conquest of Istanbul is represented in a giant painting, and to Islamic commemorative and celebratory events, the AKP’s commodification and consumption of the Ottoman heritage mediate politics. Relying on the fieldwork I conducted in 2015 and secondary sources, including the bulletins of the municipality and newspapers, this paper discusses the Islamic narrative of space and life in the city through the myth of Istanbul.

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