Architectural mimicry and the politics of mosque building: negotiating Islam and Nation in Turkey
Journal of Architecture
321 - 347
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This paper discusses the politics of mosque architecture in modern Turkey. The classical Ottoman mosque image has been reproduced in state-sponsored mosques throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Defining this particular design strategy as architectural mimicry, I discuss the emergence of this image through the negotiation between the nation-state and the ‘nationalist conservative’ discourse within the context of Cold War geopolitics. Comparing the Turkish case with the Islamic post-colonial world, I argue that the prevalence of architectural mimicry is related to the nostalgia it generates. Nostalgia is a discursive effect of architectural mimicry which is in tune with the nationalist conservative worldview in its relationship to the state's anti-communism. This particular image was taken up by the Islamist AKP in the 2000s, within the context of the global rise of political Islam. In this instance, the same representation took on a different meaning. It functioned as a simulacrum representing the ‘nation in Islam’ with a claim to authenticity amongst the competing Islamic representations.