By Zeynep Kezer
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Extra resources for Building Modern Turkey: State, Space, and Ideology in the Early Republic
IT WA S AL SO A POPU L AR VEN U E FOR S TATE-SPONSORED BA LL S, RECEPTIONS, AN D OTH ER SOCIAL E VENTS. TH ESE TH REE IM AG ES DEPIC T IM POSSIB LE VIE WS. TH E CITA DEL COU LD NOT HAVE B EEN SEEN A S IT IS REPRESENTED IN J UX TAPOSITION WITH EITH ER TH E NATION ( U LUS ) MON UM ENT OR A N K A R A PA L A S. IM AG ES ON TH E LEF T AN D RIG HT ARE FROM TH E COLLEC TION OF B U RÇ A K E VREN. lective omission of the built fabric in and around the Citadel highlighted its monumental qualities while downplaying the lives and livelihoods it engendered.
Although the artery was to be punctuated with a sequence of memorials replicating the milestones of Turkey’s journey from its grassroots independence struggle to democracy, halfway into the implementation the Presidential Palace replaced the Grand National Assembly as the culmination of that narrative. Far from being accidental, this shift paralleled changes in the political regime, which was fast veering toward authoritarianism. I argue that the intertwined stories of these two sites, taken together, hold clues to broader questions about the nature of political authority in the modern Turkish state and the fraught relationship between the country’s ascendant Westernized elites and its population at large.
At the same time, from a historian’s perspective, tracing their wobbles and swivels can be quite illuminating. The obvious inconsistencies it engendered notwithstanding, the rationale for the polarizing rhetoric used to justify the move to Ankara snaps into focus when evaluated against the tense background of political and practical anxieties the nationalist leadership felt about the form of government and the seat of power in Turkey. In the first place, they had significant security concerns. Turkey’s ability to monitor and protect the Turkish Straits had been curtailed by the Lausanne Treaty, which stipulated this to be a demilitarized zone overseen by an international commission.