YASAK/BANNED: Print Media and Cultural Spaces from Abdülhamid to Erdogan

November 30, 2017
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YASAK/BANNED: Print Media & Cultural Spaces from Abdülhamid to Erdoğan

On November 2-3 2017, the Duke-UNC Middle East Studies Consortium held a conference that examined the socio-political evolution and cultural representation in the late Ottoman Empire and Republican Turkey with strong emphasis on interdisciplinary scholarship on print media and cultural spaces. This conference was sponsored by Duke University Libraries, AMES Presents, Trent Memorial Fund, the Franklin Humanities Institute, and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.

Over the two-day event, Duke University brought together local experts and scholars near and far to participate and advance the understanding of themes such as: Historical change, Political Satire, and Gender. The event kicked off with an evening keynote by Dr. Eldem, from Boğaziçi University.  He explored the Hamidian regime and Turkish Republic’s overlap, arguing that nationalist and Islamist political actors often cling to Abdülhamid’s heritage over the legacy of Kemalism.

The following day, speakers focused on a number of topics such as: transformations of gender and sexuality during the process of modernization from Empire to nation-state, the debate over banning or promoting the headscarf, the Charleston dance appearing during the Armistice period in Istanbul, contested political imaginaries due to the Ottoman imperial loss, and censorship practices on the cartoon space. Importantly, Turkish cartoon magazines, such as Penguen—now defunct under different speculation, have fallen under more scrutiny after the failed 2016 coup d’état against sitting President Tayyip Erdoğan.

Another exciting aspect about the conference was the opening of the exhibition: “Yasak/Banned: Political Cartoons from Late Ottoman and Republican Turkey.” Housed in the Mary Duke Biddle Room, guest speakers and audience members were able to see this rare collection of cartoons spanning the late 19th century to the present. Although the conference ended, this exhibit is open to the public until March 12, 2018. The Duke Middle East Studies Center will be giving tours, led by our student docents throughout the next few months. It is crucial that we give voice to cartoonists in Turkey who have to continually find new ways to parody the political affairs of today.

In addition to the conference and exhibit, we are working on a publication that will include a portion of the papers presented at the conference.  This will be a special release put out by the Journal of Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (JOTSA).

Stay tuned!