Archiving, remembering, aestheticizing ''old'' Istanbul: the case of the Fabiato Mansion
İlengiz, Çiçek (2013) Archiving, remembering, aestheticizing ''old'' Istanbul: the case of the Fabiato Mansion. [Thesis]
Based on archival and ethnographic research, this research depicts the story of a Levantine mansion which is situated on Büyükada, Istanbul. Conceptualizing the dispossession of the Fabiato Mansion as part of the political violence targeting the non-Muslim communities of Turkey, the thesis aims to capture the continuum between the processes of ethnic cleansing and the Turkification of capital. Following the story of the Fabiato Mansion, which was confiscated in 1993 after the death of its owner, Aurora Fabiato, and transformed into a “culture house” upon the initiative of Turkey’s Touring and Automobile Club (Touring), this thesis attempts at a critical analysis of the aestheticization process and the institutional and individual remembering, as well as silencing, practices around the mansion. The aestheticization process of the Fabiato Mansion can be characterized as a process that aims at turning loss into a consumable product in the form of a touristic curiosity. A particular presentation of Levantine history justifies the appropriation of the building, while attuning its inhabitants and its history with discourses of Turkish history that glosses over systematic political violence and nationalization of property. The thesis investigates how the history of the mansion is reflected in various archives while at the same time focusing on contemporary memory practices. Taking both institutional archiving and personal memory as instances of knowledge production as much as knowledge preservation, it argues that the knowledge production surrounding the Fabiato Mansion needs to be understood as a process of silencing with gendered and ethnicized dimensions. The silence produced and upheld by state and non-state archives, as well as individuals take different forms, which can be summarized as follows: first, aestheticization as a tool to silence the story of the reminiscences of the past; second, the marginalization of personal memory (vs. written documentation and official history); third, the normalization of political violence through cultural policy; and fourth, archival silencing.
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