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Archives as Fields of Heritage-Making in Istanbul's Historic Peninsula

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Heritage-making is a process of valorization carried out using complex exchanges, contestations, and negotiations between various actors. State actors attempt, through various strategies, to employ heritage-making in order to construct a unified heritage discourse and avoid multivocality. One of these strategies is the control of state archives, an approach that seeks to dictate what is accessible and inaccessible and thus to dominate conceptualizations of heritage. This paper discusses how research in state archives sheds light on heritage-making in Istanbul's historic peninsula and how the state's tendency to restrain access reflects the contested nature of Istanbul's heritage. The restriction or denial of archival access becomes a significant component of heritage-making in Turkey, shaped not only by the past but also by the present. Therefore, archives and the practice of archival research become both a tool for the researcher and at the same time a subject worthy of research in and of itself. This paper argues that the attitudes of state institutions and the discourses they adopt in restraining access to archives are in fact objects of enquiry in the understanding of the precise boundaries of their scope of authority and, as such, can provide further insight into the fragmented nature of the state and state archives.
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Keywords: Istanbul; Turkey; access; archival research; heritage; statecraft

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000121137995 Middle East Technical University

Publication date: July 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA) is intended for those interested in urban design and planning, architecture, and landscape design in the historic Islamic world, encompassing the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, but also the more recent geographies of Islam in its global dimensions. The main emphasis is on detailed analysis of the practical, historical and theoretical aspects of architecture, with a focus on both design and its reception. The journal is also specifically interested in contemporary architecture and urban design in relation to social and cultural history, geography, politics, aesthetics, technology, and conservation. Spanning across cultures and disciplines, IJIA seeks to analyze and explain issues related to the built environment throughout the regions covered. The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary nature of this journal will significantly contribute to the knowledge in this field.

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