Objects of hate? Architectural symbols of the rich in Turkey in the 1960s

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Turkey in Turmoil: Social Change and Political Radicalization during the 1960s
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De Gruyter
240 - 255
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It is unfortunately true that there is social injustice in our country. A fortunate class exploits housing potentials and acquires houses which would be considered luxurious even in rich countries; resources are seized to the disadvantage of other classes.This quotation is from the Chamber of Architects’ declaration published a few months after the military intervention in 1960. Although it did not attack the military regime, the text openly criticized the failure of the military to implement effective regulations regarding housing and urbanization. As the quotation reflects, the Chamber’s declaration represents the urgency of the housing question as well as the Chamber’s position with respect to it. Yet, it was none other than architects, who were designing the houses, which “would be considered luxurious even in rich countries.” The tension between the client-dependent nature of the architectural profession and the Chamber’s opposition to urbanization led by the private sector would prevail throughout the following decades. Nonetheless, this tension allows us to consider the multifaceted character of architecture which is simultaneously a service to be bought and a social product to be consumed. I would like to use this intrinsic conflict between the private ownership of buildings and their social use as a starting point for my discussion on the cultural politics of the housing question in Turkey in the 1960s. I will argue that a key mode of consuming architecture is through vision: the visual experience of the built environment establishes the foundation for the social meanings of architecture. Therefore, my aim here is to scrutinize the political role of architectural representations of home in popular culture in the 1960s. As scrutinized by the chapters in this collection, the period witnessed radical changes in almost all facets of social life. Urban life transformed under pressure of multiple factors and led to the emergence of new social practices. Social change encompassed all sorts of domains and cultural production was no exception. New trends and lifestyles displayed social distinction, which triggered conflicting visions regarding the city and its built environment. Within this framework, I will show how cultural representations were not merely reflections of wealth and poverty, but rather components in the making of the imaginations of the rich and the poor.

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Book Title
Turkey in turmoil: social change and political radicalization during the 1960s