Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Past and Present in Istanbul - Some sources

I have a new essay up on CNN. I started public writing for two reasons - 1. To write about parenting (especially disability, though gender has now emerged as a major theme). 2. To try and insert historical context into contemporary stories. The name, How Did We Get Into This Mess, reflects that latter goal, and it permeates everything I do. Like many historians, we think the past matters both for its own sake and for those who really want to understand today's world. Today's essay especially serves that broader theme.

When I write for online publications, I tend to litter the prose with links, as I think the hypertextual relationships between pieces of writing is part of what makes online discourse so interesting (links and hashtags are entirely new kinds of writing). But my editor at CNN, surely wisely (I trust my editors), removed most of the links. So here are the resources to which I explicitly connected my essay. These are my footnotes.



  1. Erdoğan speaking in support of the renovations and an overview of reviews.
  2. Early reports on the demonstrations spreading to other cities
  3. Erdoğan claiming to be open to “democratic demands,” but denial of the legitimacy of all the public unrest, calling them , “an illegal uprising against the rule of democracy.” 
  4.  CNN's link on yesterday's crackdown, when the police blanketed the area with tear gas. 
  5. Disagreements about the cause. What are the protests "really" about?  Some focus on the role of Islam in Turkey, while others emphasize disagreements about the nature of Turkish democracy, the lack of civil liberties, or the nascent environmentalist movement.
  6. Under AKP rule, the Ottoman past has re-emerged as culturally powerful.  More and more aspects of elite Turkish culture now embrace Ottoman architecture, fashion and even food.  According to some opponents of the AKP,
  7. In fact, in popular Turkish culture, the Taksim Barracks are associated with the killing of Christian army officers in 1909, while the Alevis (a large minority group in Turkey) remember Selim I as the murderer of their people. 
  8. At their best, the Ottomans were surprisingly pluralistic
  9. Actors protest: Devrim Evin declined to join Istanbul’s formal celebration. He joined actors from Magnificent Century. You can follow him on twitter. His comments on on Mehmet
There's lots more out there that I read. A friend just suggested this architecture blog which links to another piece describing the plans as "a neo-Ottoman Las Vegas in this 6000-year-old city."

What else should we read?

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