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Inheriting Dispossession, Mobilizing Vulnerability: Heritage amid Protest in Contemporary Turkey

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This article discusses recent Occupy-style protests that took place at sites of heritage quality in Turkey. It looks into the material and discursive ways in which the protests have negotiated possession, dispossession and belonging across time. Cultural heritage is more often than not understood as a ‘thing’ belonging to a particular proprietor (regardless of heritage’s intangibility or the proprietor’s collectivity or anonymity). It is regulated as such not just on the level of nation states but also globally. The examples discussed in this article, however, have seen much of this association thrown into disarray by shifting focus, instead, to vulnerability and dispossession. This shift of focus invokes the following two forces: (1) the violent pasts and their role in the production of ‘cultural heritage’ as such, and (2) the risk of earthquake and its prompting of negotiations over the use, ownership and physical layout of heritage-quality sites. What sorts of political agency might heritage enable when it is experienced and conceptualized through vulnerability and dispossession? What might such experience and conceptualization mean for the temporalities and human–nonhuman hierarchy associated with conventional understandings of belonging in and through heritage? The article explores these questions through two cases: Gezi Park and its environs in Istanbul, and the Tigris Valley (including Hewsel Gardens and Mount Kırklar) in Diyarbakır.
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Keywords: belonging; disaster; heritage; property; temporality; violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Hertfordshire

Publication date: July 1, 2016

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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