Space, identity, and abjection : purification of Beyoğlu
Özakın, Emin Özgür
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Beyoğlu provides uniquely rich material for a discussion on space and identity. Ever since its very foundation, the district has accommodated different nations, cultures, religions and architectural styles which were blended into a unique amalgam. Even if Beyoğlu fitted in the socio-political fabric of the Ottoman Empire, along with the Turkish modernization, there aroused a discontent over its identity. In the 20th century, Beyoğlu was turned into a contaminating element for the Turkish Republic and was subjected to various incidents that attempted to purify its complex identity. These incidents may well be read with Kristeva‟s “abjection”, a concept that serves in identity construction by simultaneously inventing and excluding an element of fear, revulsion, and hatred. Abjection towards Beyoğlu and its components were commonly masked by a nostalgic discourse that invented a pure bygone identity. In the 20th century, Beyoğlu has become a defiled resource, serving to perform and generate identities; but mostly chauvinist, nationalist, religious, and moralist ones. This fact necessitates a critical distance towards the essentialist view of identity construction operating with abjection, where the abject figure is merely regarded as something to be annihilated. Supported with an ethical dimension, post-structuralist ontology provides a non-violent and sustainable approach towards identity construction that necessarily includes the excluded.