Talks on Atatürk

The Architecture of Atatürk’s Era, from the Perspective of Intellectual and Political Periphery
Prof. Uğur Tanyeli


22 November 2018 / 18:30 Geçmiş Aktivite

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s death. As a commemoration, İstanbul Research Institute presents its “Talks on Atatürk.” The third talk is “The Architecture of Atatürk’s Era, from the Perspective of Intellectual and Political Periphery” by Prof. Uğur Tanyeli

Just like everything else about Atatürk’s reign in Turkey, its architecture can also be discussed from two contradicting viewpoints. This debate is usually not recorded by historical studies; but is rather expressed via implications, and political and cultural choices. One side creates a tale of a paradise lost, which can be labelled as “Early Republican Nostalgia”; while the other side has another story of another paradise lost, albeit expressed in the harshest terms as “betrayal by Westernization”. The former envies the strength of Atatürk’s long-lost purposeful determination, enthusiasm, and willpower to develop and change. The latter discusses the loss of national and religious identities and the consequential complications. They mainly complain that the climax of westernization of the Atatürk period led to a society that could not define which culture or “civilization” it belonged to.

However, for observers who try to detach themselves from daily political concerns, both “paradises lost” are mere illusions. Beyond architecture, it can be argued that in all ages and all places, modernity merely means hybridization. Like the Ottomans who settled in the Early Modernity context as early as the 16th century; Atatürk’s era also displays these hybridization processes. At most, reference can be made to periodic changes in the approaches to hybridization of different cultural practices. In order to grasp the architecture of Atatürk’s era with a certain level of academic rigor, one first needs to treat Ottoman centuries with the same approach.

From such a perspective, the historian will be able to see that, much like the rest of Turkish history, the architecture of Atatürk’s era is a combination of ordinary and conflicting processes of change. Although the objective was to transcend history -by oblivion in some instances- the period’s architecture was in fact mainly characterized by a sense of continuity.

About Prof. Uğur Tanyeli
Uğur Tanyeli was born in Ankara in 1952. After studying his first academic year at the Istanbul Technical University (ITU) Faculty of Civil Engineering, he began to attend the Istanbul State Fine Arts Academy (ISFA) Department of Architecture (currently Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Faculty of Architecture). Upon his graduation in 1976, he became a fellow in the Department of History of Architecture in his alma mater. In May 1982, he left his position in ISFA to join ITU Faculty of Architecture. In 1986, he completed his postgraduate degree. Starting in October 1990, he spent one year at Michigan University Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Studies as visiting faculty member. In 1992, he became an Assistant Professor. Starting from 1991-92, he lectured in Faculty of Architecture at the Anadolu University Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.  n 1998, Tanyeli was appointed to the Yıldız Technical University Faculty of Architecture as professor, and from 2011 to 2015 he acted as a founding dean of the Mardin Artuklu University Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. Between February 2015 and June 2018, he acted as the dean at Istanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Architecture. He joined the Istanbul Şehir University Faculty of Architecture and Design in August 2018.
This event will be held in Pera Museum Auditorium. Free admissions; drop in. The talk will be in Turkish.