EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W043)

Is after the Crisis before the Crisis? New perspectives on art, media and politics in Turkey

Location John Hume Boardroom
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Britta Ohm (University of Bern) email
Barbara Wolbert (University of Minnesota) email
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Long Abstract

Crisis' and 'Transformation' are terms that have been used to characterise the economic and political situation in Turkey for a long time. They are embedded in and expressive of Turkey's historical constellation of a structural cleavage between a militarily secured secularism and capitalism and a multi-party system that allows for (and conditions) democratising and welfare-oriented impulses through Islam and identity politics. With the incumbency of the AKP, the Justice and Development Party, a new conjuncture of neo-liberalism, pro-Islamic and pro-EU politics has evolved, which has given a boost to the art and media scene. "Istanbul 2010" celebrates the city as the European Capital of Culture, while Islamic TV channels and websites blossom and the public debate of the Kurdish issue and ethnic politics happens to a hitherto unimaginable degree. At the same time access to YouTube is banned, ratings govern television production, and a restricted popular image construction tends to dominate art and cultural representations. Questions thus arise for the contingencies and compulsions that channel art and media production in this context and for the chances of dissent, allowing for the transgression of new ideological barriers.

Against this background we invite papers that explore into the relationship between censorship and neo-liberalism, deal with social distinction, mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, strategies of legitimisation, scopes and definitions of freedom of expression, as well as examine strategies of negotiation with 'official' ideas and the concoctions of Islamisation and commercialisation.

Discussant: Levent Soysal

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Istanbul 2010 the European capital of culture: 'What really did happen between the images 1960-2010s?'

Author: Deniz Bayrakdar (Kadir Has University, Istanbul)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper aims to discuss the "in-betweens" of the Istanbul images shown on January 16, 2010, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of Istanbul 2010, the European Capital of Culture. In-between these images where the symbols of Byzantine and Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic are "cut" into another evoked a feeling of "rupture". Istanbul was sent in sense to exile as the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire's capital after Ankara was chosen as the capital of the Modern Turkey. (Öner et al 200?). Istanbul has been left to the realm of representations in 50s and 60s films leaving the modernism project to the new capital Ankara. Istanbul has gone through fast transformations from 60 onwards till today on social, economic and cultural levels. The centers shifted, the axes have changed, some spatial arrangements like projects of gentrification and the increase of number of the gated communities has altered the image of the city. Referring to the surveys and researches of city planners and architects I will try to make a flash-forward between the 1960s and 2000s to find the moments and sites of this "rupture" between the images.

An early case of neo-liberal historiography: the invention of Soixante-Huitards in Turkish mainstream media and the crisis of historicity in Turkey

Author: Murat Altun (University of Minnesota)  email
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Long Abstract

A raising interest on the role of generations in historical thinking has been occupying the academia. Especially since 1988, 20 years after 1968, a discourse on the impact of the Soixante-Huitard has haunted mass media and art scenes as well. Narrations on the subjectivity of this generation have mostly been argued through its members' peculiarity and uniqueness. This work, however, will discuss that all generational discourses are built a posteriori, in a retrospective fashion. One therefore should discern the uniqueness of Soixante-Huitard focusing on its members' present social positions. The major purpose of this paper is to discuss the connection between the present cultural-economic conditions of Soixante-Huitards and their nostalgia for a romantic past by indexing some instances from mainstream Turkish media channels. The logic of this nostalgic re-narration of the past might provide insight to see the mechanisms of what this paper calls as "neo-liberal historiography." The major goal of this paper is to disclose the interrelations between this new historiography, which is an early example of neo-liberal historicism, and the settlement of the ideal global citizen that praises youthfulness.

The printed media as a battlefield of the 1980 Turkish coup d'etat

Author: Bilgen Komut (University of Minnesota)  email
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Long Abstract

In the historically accepted dominant narrative of Turkey's recent past, the 1980 coup d'état has been declared necessary for Turkey's emergence from socio-political unrest and economic turmoil and its entrance into neo-liberal world order and global modernity. According to a large number of politicians, scholars, and ordinary citizens, it was the "bitter prescription" that had to be applied for the recovery of Turkish democracy. Yet, thousands of social activists today condemn the 1980 coup d'état and human rights violations of the provisional military regime. They demand that the violent past be confronted in order to overcome current limitations on Turkish democracy. This paper compares and contrasts conflicting narratives of the 1980 coup d'état by analyzing the issues of Hayat magazine published in the 1980s and by ethnographically exploring the rhetoric of the social activists in Turkey.

Beyond banning: thinking about dynamics of censorship, delegitimization and foreclosure in Istanbul's contemporary artworld

Author: Banu Karaca (Sabanci University, Istanbul)  email
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Long Abstract

While the increasing interest in contemporary art from Turkey, both domestically and internationally, has centered on explicitly political works, discussions on the limitations of the freedom of expression have likewise been spotlighted, not least in the context of Turkey's EU candidacy. Much of these debates have focused on the controversial article 301 of the penal code criminalizing the 'denigration' of 'the Turkish nation and its institutions.' Less thematized, however, are modes of censorship that, in contrast to the attempts of complete suppression marking the 1980-coup and its aftermath, aim to delegitimize artistic expression that can be construed as threatening the territorial integrity (and sovereignty) of the Turkish state as well as public decency. Based on fieldwork in Istanbul's contemporary artworld, this paper examines current modalities of censorship in the arts, the different actors involved in censoring efforts, and how artists themselves address the dynamics of self-censorship and foreclosure.

The EU process assemblage and senior Turkish journalists

Author: Erkan Saka (Istanbul Bilgi University)  email
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Long Abstract

Reporting the European Union (EU) was at one moment the mother of all political coverage in Turkey even if the actors denied it. In mediating the EU, senior journalists, editors and columnists act not as spokespersons of other elites but become a group of elites that organize, produce, mediate the existing Republican rule whose foundations are directly linked to the founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Their role appears through the formation of a political assemblage, which I call the EU Process Assemblage. Even if a journalist has a pro-EU stance personally, overall journalistic production tends to be anti-EU because of their embeddedness in this assemblage. This particular assemblage formed during a political party, AKP, which did not have traditional Republican credibilities, came to rule. Senior journalists acted against the political authority fiercely, even this meant not good for business. In republican history, journalists are known to oppose government policies but there was never such an ideological stance against the civil authority before. Along with and sometimes independently from military, judiciary and some other bureaucratic sectors, they acted as the guardians of the Kemalist order. Still, my presentation points out the current fast changes in media ownership patterns and its possible ramifications on the political scene in Turkey.

The absence of the investigated and the presence of the spectacular state on commercial Turkish television

Author: Britta Ohm (University of Bern)  email
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Long Abstract

The tropes of visibility and invisibility have over the past years often been employed with regard to Islam and the public sphere in Turkey (Göle 2002; Kandiyoti/Saktanber 2002). The here proposed paper will transfer these tropes towards the question of the presence and the absence of the state in commercial tele-visualisations and link them to legal practises of the AKP-government. It thereby assumes a strategic gap between imagery/form and content rather than the usually presumed congruence: the spectacular representation especially of news that suggest a society in permanent motion (Debord 1967) is predicated on the actual absence of the state in terms of ist being journalistically intestigated and thus on its lacking answerability to the media. Exploring the theoretical dimensions and visual manifestations of this gap, the paper will focus on the reporting of the recent Ergenekon/anti-military investigations that are supported by the AKP-government and that have opened new options of journalistic research and set them in context with the unaltered legal practise of penalising, rather than openly censoring, broadcasts that are qualified as ‚problematic’ by government institutions.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.