Reading İzmir Culture Park through women’s experiences: matinee practices in the 1970s’ casino spaces
Demirli, Meltem Eranıl
Gürel, Meral O.
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From its establishment in 1936, Izmir Culture Park (ICP) became a historical marker of Turkish modernity, with its leisure and entertainment spaces celebrating modern values and conditions, while functioning as a medium for adapting them. Casinos, entertainment spaces with live music and food service, were a significant component of the park’s entertainment life from the very beginning. They diverged from their earlier cultural forms and aesthetics during the 1970s in response to the demands in the entertainment sector and the accompanying spatial needs, as well as women’s changing social position in the 1970s. Charting this divergence, and tracing how it came about, this study examines the ways in which ICP’s changing entertainment culture led the way in producing an alternative space -the matinee- for women. This study builds on existing histories of ICP by investigating and introducing new layers of meaning on women’s spatiality. It contributes to gender studies by analyzing how matinees encouraged women to participate in leisure activities, how women experienced this public space, and how they transformed it through their practices in living out their modernity. Women transformed the abstract space of ICP casinos into lived space. By pushing the 1970s social boundaries in Turkey, women both used and transformed the spaces of ICP as they took the opportunity to enjoy their freedom, albeit within the limited space of the casino and the limited time of the matinee. This study deeply investigates this socio-spatial transformation, within a tripartite theoretical structure of memory, gender and Lefebvrian spatial theories, in order to convey ‘herstory’1.