Modern Turkish National Identity in Museums : Representation Analysis in Istanbul Museums and Heritage Sector Between 2010-2020
Abstract: The representation of national identity in museums of the 21st century´s diverse and multicultural societies is a challenging task. It is a task that involves questions of narrative and heritage inclusivity as well as questions of power and ideology. This thesis includes an investigation of the representation of the Turkish national identity in two state owned museums, one private museum and two contested heritage sites in Istanbul. Both contested sites were legally transformed from museums to mosques in 2020. The investigation also involves questions of power and legitimacy in the Turkish heritage sector in the past decade. Qualitative methods including observations, grounded theory initial coding, exhibition spatial syntax analysis and objects´ value analysis are used in the research. The analysis results revealed a fragmentation in the Turkish national identity representation and in the power structure of the Turkish heritage sector where different key actors are involved in national identity production and representation. The History narrative represented is linear and fragmented where each selected museum presents a different historical period with an emphasis on the multicultural nature of the region historically. Ideology and the heritage policy analysis has revealed that the Turkish heritage sector is heading towards an Ottoman based ideology instead of the secular Kemalism ideology that had built the modern Turkish national identity since the establishment of the republic in 1923. The results show that the challenge of representing inclusive and sustainable heritage and national identities in multicultural societies is complex. However, to achieve that, museums and heritage sectors would have to adopt policies of recognition and civil society involvement. The state would have to take an architect role by funding the museum and heritage sector without interfering in museum´s function. This is a two years master’s thesis in Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies.
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