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Building witnesses: Turkey's architecture of "facing and reckoning with the past" in the case of Sivas '93

Cayli, E; (2015) Building witnesses: Turkey's architecture of "facing and reckoning with the past" in the case of Sivas '93. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This dissertation investigates architecture’s role in negotiating socio-political atrocities. It focuses on a case from Turkey, an arson attack that took place on 2 July 1993 in the city of Sivas. The site of this attack, the Madımak Hotel, has the quality of a prototypical case among the several sites of atrocity in Turkey, which, over the past couple of decades, have become subject to memorialisation projects—initially under the civil society discussions known as “facing and reckoning with the past” (geçmişle yüzleşme ve hesaplaşma) and later as part of a larger process of “post-coup democratisation” endorsed by the governing authorities. After continuing for many years to serve commercial purposes, in 2011 the Madımak Hotel was expropriated and turned by the state into a Science and Culture Centre, and an entire section of it called the “Memory Corner” was dedicated to the 1993 atrocity. The dissertation begins by analysing, both theoretically and empirically, the dynamics between violence and space. It discerns the inside-outside distinction as a fundamental material-spatial demarcation that has been both productive of and produced by the 1993 atrocity. The dissertation then goes on to study, through ethnography and archival research, the various spaces (both geographical and architectural) that have been subject to this demarcation and have hosted related examples of architectural memorialisation. These include the city and the building where the arson attack took place, a group of monuments and memorials across Turkey and in London, and those built in the aftermath of another atrocity in Germany that has come to serve as a reference case for the memorialisation debate in Turkey. The fundamental thesis is that the widespread opinion in Turkey that regards the judicial treatment of atrocities such as Sivas ’93 as flawed has imbued the sites where the atrocities took place (and those in which they are architecturally memorialised) with a quasi-judicial significance. The dissertation suggests that the material-spatial logic of memorialisation as a quasi-judicial force resembles rather than resolve that of the violence with which it is intended to help “face and reckon.” It concludes with a discussion of what this resemblance might imply as regards methodological and theoretical questions around temporality and agency in architectural memorialisation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Building witnesses: Turkey's architecture of "facing and reckoning with the past" in the case of Sivas '93
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1467247
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