Nationalism, Politics, and Museums in Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (AKP): The Case of the Panorama Museum 1453

Museums are institutions dedicated to the collection and preservation of artefacts, but they are also sites of national production that contribute to shaping the nation’s collective memory. Sometimes, history exhibited in museums becomes the centre of cultural wars that are not fought on battlefields, but on information panels and showcases: devices where the national past is contested, rewritten, and exhibited. With the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the institutional representation of Turkish national history was subject to significant changes. Conforming with the national ideology of the AKP, recently built museums focus more on Turkey’s Ottoman and Islamic heritage, and less on similarly important ones such as the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and the more recent Kemalist traditions. Investigating the case study of the Panorama Museum 1453 – one of the most popular attractions for domestic and foreign tourists in Istanbul – this paper examines the way in which politics influences collective remembrance of the past. Its goal is to trace the material links between the government, artists and historians, supporting the spread of Islamic and Ottoman history, and the new museums which exhibit it.

Lorenzo Posocco

Lorenzo Posocco

Lorenzo Posocco holds a dual PhD in political science (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) and sociology (University College Dublin). His research was funded by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, the Region Île-de-France (Bourse Mobilité), and the Embassy of France in Ireland. At present, he is a visiting fellow at the University of Graz, Center for Southeast European Studies.

1. How does politics influence collective remembrance of the past?
2. Is history confined to the realm of the “historical” or it is potentially pray of external forces that exploit it for their profit?
3. As institutions built to conserve, protect, and investigate the past, are museums prey of these forces? If yes, what are the complex dynamics that link politics, history, and museums?

- Elgenious, Gabriella. 2015. National Museums as National Symbols, A Survey of Strategic Nation-Building and Identity Politics; Nations as Symbolic Regimes, in National Museums and Nation-Building in Europe 1750-2010, Mobilization and Legitimacy, Continuity and Change, edited by Aronsson, Peter and Gabriella Elgenius. London: Routledge.
- Mclean, Fiona. 2005. Museums and National Identity. Museum and Society 3(1), 1-4.
- Newman, Andrew and Fiona McLean. 2006. The Impact of Museums upon Identity. International Journal of Heritage Studies 12(1), 49-68.
- Macdonald, J. Sharon. 2003. Museums, National, Postnational and Transcultural Identities. Museum and Society 1(1), 1-16.
- Fyfe, Gordon. 2011. Sociology and the Social Aspects of Museums, in A Companion to Museum Studies, edited by Macdonald, Sharon. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 33-49.
- Fladmark, J. Magnus. 2000. Heritage and Museums. Shaping National Identity. Shaftesbury: Donhead Publisher; Gillis, R. John. (ed.). 1996. Commemorations. The Politics of National Identity. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.



Southeastern Europe