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Changing imaginations of Istanbul

New Emmy Noether Group at LMU

Munich, 08/04/2011

A new Emmy Noether Research Group at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München will work on a project entitled “From the Oriental to the “Cool” City. Changing Imaginations of Istanbul, Cultural Production and the Production of Urban Space.” This is the second Research Group funded by the Emmy Noether Program in the field of Humanities at LMU. The Research Group will be led by Dr. Derya Özkan and hosted by the Institute of European Ethnology. The Emmy Noether Program is funded by the German Research Foundation and is designed to support talented young postdoctoral researchers to gain the qualifications necessary for an academic career.

Together with the other members of her group, Özkan will study the transformations in the ways in which Istanbul has been imagined since the 19th century – as an Oriental city, as a Third World City, as a Global City, and most recently as a “cool” city. ”Istanbul was referred to as a “cool city” for the first time in 2005 when the international edition of Newsweek covered the city as “the coolest city of Europe,” says Özkan. “We would like to research the social and political context in which this imagination has emerged, and in what ways the earlier conceptions of Istanbul as an Oriental, Third World and Global City reappear in this new imagination of “cool” Istanbul. This has a lot to do with the increasing importance of cultural production in the city in the neoliberal era and also entails significant changes in the material production of urban space.” Özkan believes that these imaginations are not only shaped by, but also shape, social history.

The project pursues an in-depth analysis of three major discursive regimes characterizing the production of urban popular culture in three sociohistorical periods. The first is the discourse of Orientalism, characteristic of the era of colonialism / imperialism in the 19th century, based on which Istanbul was imagined as an Oriental city. The second is the ideology of national developmentalism in the post World War II era, in the context of which Istanbul was viewed as a Third World city of “crude urbanization.” The third includes the era marked by neoliberal globalization, in which Istanbul was defined as a global(izing) city. Özkan intends to analyze these transformations in perception in order to place them in their global sociopolitical context, to understand the backdrop against which the notion of the “cool city” was developed in the early 21st century. In the second phase of the project, Özkan plans to compare Istanbul with Berlin and Belgrade, two European capitals that occupy very different positions in the cultural geography of the continent – one located at the continent’s political heart, the other situated closer to its periphery – yet are also regarded as “cool” in popular media.

Derya Özkan studied Architecture and Sociology at Middle East Technical University (Turkey), and then Society, Science and Technology at Istanbul Technical University (Turkey) and Maastricht University (The Netherlands). After obtaining her PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester (USA) in 2008, Özkan joined the Institute of European Ethnology at LMU. (göd/PH)

Dr. Derya Özkan
Institute of European Ethnology
Phone: +49 89 / 2180 6980
Fax: +49 89 / 2180 3507

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