Silent interruptions urban encounters with rural Turkey
Nalbantoğlu, Gülsüm Baydar
University of Washington Press
192 - 210
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Rethinking modernity and national identity in Turkey
The architecture of rural Turkey has been a recurrent theme in the grand narrative of modern Turkish architecture. It was captured by a wave of nationalist and regionalist interests in the 1930s and early 1940s, valued by disappointed modernists in the 1960s, and rediscovered for its consumptive value in the 1980s. In the earlier phases, the proponents of regionalism had to draw careful distinctions between an ideal, sanitized, and immaculate rural imaginary and the unenviable state of real Turkish villages. Paradoxically perhaps, the rural imaginary privileged the model of an ideal, clean, orderly city and used it as a cultural and physical exemplar. 1 The impossibility of realizing this impeccable model became apparent after the unprecedented urban migrations of the 1950s onward-articulated with other social, political, and economic forces beyond the scope of this essay-which threatened the sanitized, controllable, and homogeneous urban vision of the republic's early leaders. The material effects of this process remain at the core of contemporary cultural studies in Turkey. Opinions are divided. While some lament the phenomenon, interpreting it as the evaporation of the last hopes of the Kemalist vision of cultural modernity, others celebrate it as a much desired plurality that strikes the final blow to homogenizing, elitist, and sterile attempts to create culture from above. This essay is written from a position calling for the opening up of a third space that neither authorizes "one" nor privileges "many." It attempts to uncover a cultural-architectural space of difference that disrupts preconstructed identities and essences, contesting plurality as a multiplication of sociological totalities; a space in which both essentialist constructions and relativist celebrations are avoided; a space of translation across the urban-rural boundaries set up by the nation's founding fathers.