Reflections in the silver mirror: (re)constructing the city and morality in Muş
Ayaz, Atak (2016) Reflections in the silver mirror: (re)constructing the city and morality in Muş. [Thesis]
In 2010, as the result of the collaboration between the municipality of Muş—a city in Eastern Anatolia—and the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), an urban transformation project started in the city’s historical neighborhood, Kale Mahallesi. This thesis examines the function of urban transformation, at large, and the role of the current project, in particular, in shaping moral economies, hegemonic structures, the relationship between memory and materiality, and the project’s continuity with the modernization narrative that developed in tandem with the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. Utilizing ethnographic findings collected through semi-structured, in-depth oral history interviews and participant observation, this thesis probes the following questions: How does urbanization in the city become realized in harmony with the modernization narrative and identity politics of the Turkish Republic? In what ways is hegemony exercised in the process of urban transformation? How does the loss of historical buildings in the neighborhood affect memory and what kinds of roles do materialities play to this effect? Who defines ownership ‘in the field’ when this concept is complicated by a moral economy of redemption and helalleşmek, which can be roughly explained as settling material and nonmaterial accounts in the eyes of Allah? In what ways do helalleşmek and ownership pass intergenerationally, as in the case of the silver mirror, complicating the notions of ‘heritage’ and ‘capital’ when we consider what the term ‘ownership’ encompasses? Finally, I emphasize the significance of underscoring a continuum in the politics implemented by the Republic of Turkey since its foundation, in addition to the significance for my interlocutors in deploying moral economies when personal, ethnic and national histories intersect and clash, as in the case of Muş.
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