Activism Rooted in Tradition

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As a rapidly developing Asian country, Turkey suffers from a lack of education about environmental issues and the absence of a widespread environmentalist movement that might exert pressure on the government to conserve its diminishing natural resources. Artists and cultural producers are trying to fill this gap by making works that speak to the issues threatening Turkey's environmental health. Rather than limiting environmental awareness to the country's educated urban elites, effective change can only be achieved at a mass level by involving the country's rural populations and recent urban immigrants, and by recognizing them as active agents in environmentalist struggles. An appeal to more far-reaching historical perspectives, traditional modes of knowledge and indigenous modes of subsistence may be required to build a coalition that can bridge ethnic, class and geographic divides. This article looks at the works of some Turkish contemporary artists and film-makers, including the xurban_collective, Halil Altındere, Rüya Koksal, Osman Sisman and Özlem Sarıyıldız, whose works engage such strategies.
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