Imperial Flashbacks in Cold War Turkey


KHAS Core Program

December 7, Tuesday, 20:00

Nation is imagined as attached to a homeland; the ‘sacred’ source of resources, livelihood, output, energy, and emotions. In modern societies where encounters with ‘others’ increase due to displacements, migrations, wars and modernization; nationalist myths referring to collective memories of space, gain strength in helping people counter ‘homelessness.’ This talk focuses on the legacy of collective imperialist memories on Turkish nationalist imagination and the conflation of ‘empire’ and ‘nation-state,’ through widely consumed historical/action/adventure movies of the 1960s-70s. This film genre was very popular in Turkish cinema at a time when there was an interest in historical films in the world. Some of the most memorable and successful films were featuring comic-book heroes riding their horses in post-Ottoman spaces in the Cold War period. In fact, although the Ottoman Empire died, its imprint on collective memory still survives leading to the coexistence of nation-state ideology with visions of empire and so highly ambiguous, fluid, abstract and indefinite mental geographical maps besides specific, impermeable, and static understanding of national borders. Thus, the talk looks at how these movies represent post-Ottoman identity in relation to the representation of the ‘landscape’. The talk, at the end, aims to grasp nationalistic imaginings of space and the complexity of everyday construction of ‘national.’