Cities on the Move – Turkey and Yugoslavia in the Interwar Period

Cities on the Move – Turkey and Yugoslavia in the Interwar Period

Prof. Dr. Nataša Mišković Middle Eastern Studies University of Basel
Alte Universität, Rheinsprung 7/9
Vom - Bis
14.09.2017 - 16.09.2017
Nataša Mišković

Yugoslavia and Turkey are two nation states that emerged at the end of World War I out of the remains of the Ottoman (and in case of Yugoslavia, partly of the Habsburg) Empire. One was a monarchy founded in December 1918, with the former King of Serbia becoming the King of a 'three-named nation' of South-Slavs. The other, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was forged under the conviction that the Ottomanist policy of the last Sultans had failed and that the Anatolian 'heart' of the former empire should become exclusively Turk. The founding of the two new states triggered a dynamic development especially in the large cities, where the new regimes first implemented their nation building projects.

In the past few years, the SIBA project, based at the Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel, has researched four of these cities through the lens of local photo reporters, focusing on the major daily newspapers Politika, Vreme, Cumhuriyet and Akşam, and on the old and new capitals Istanbul, Ankara, and Belgrade, and, as a contrast and second Yugoslav city, Sarajevo. Based on the analysis of a large database of photographs from public and private collections in Bosnia, Serbia and Turkey, the SIBA project now formulates a series of questions to be discussed in an interdisciplinary conference, introducing a visual approach. The questions turn around three key issues: (1) the contrast between the city centres as a showcase of the new political elites and the çarşı/čaršija as the meeting place of the population as a whole, (2) the cult of the body in the service of the new nation, (3) the impact of this nationally connoted perception of the body on everyday life, as reflected in dressing habits, religious attitudes and urban leisure activities.

Press photography of the urban public sphere offers impressing visual evidence on many aspects of everyday life which otherwise remain in oblivion. At the same time, it reveals to which extent the representations of power expressed the general zeitgeist of the period. Whereas the dynamic expansion of the new Turkish capital Ankara is well researched, the similarly fast development of interwar Belgrade is much less known. In both cities, the new political elites created a public space which was to represent modernity combined with the values of their rule. To a lesser extent, this was also the case in Istanbul, and even Sarajevo. In contrast, life in the old trade quarters, the çarşı/čaršija, seems to have continued as if the Ottoman Empire had never come to an end. The visibility of the nation-building project in the urban sphere was not limited to infrastructure and large new buildings: It mobilized large sections of society, which engaged in activities very much conforming to the period zeitgeist: An impressive portion of the analyzed press photography covers parades in various forms: athletes, scouts, soldiers, men and women alike. The new rulers took a huge effort to form modern citizens of their subjects, with a focus on the youth, and on symbols. In Turkey, Atatürk banned the red felt cap (fes) and dotted the public space with his monuments to mark the break with the Ottoman past. Women were awarded active and passive voting rights in 1930 and 1935 respectively and asked to exchange their veils with a coat. In contrast, Yugoslav peasants, and a large portion of the Yugoslav Muslim population, continued to wear traditional garb, while the government tried to establish a synthesized national folk culture based on traditional peasant customs from all regions of the country.

The conference will discuss the SIBA project's findings bringing together researchers from history, art history, urban studies, architecture, anthropology, Balkan studies and Turkish studies, from Southeastern Europe and beyond, channeling in-depth knowhow from various methodological approaches, both visual and non-visual. Selected papers will be published in an edited volume. The conference is generously supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.



Thursday, 14 September 2017


Welcome Addresses
Prof. Dr. Nataša Mišković, Convener
Prof. Dr. Maurus Reinkowski, Head, Middle Eastern Studies
Prof. Dr. Walter Leimgruber, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Keynote Lecture
Prof. Dr. Burcu Doğramacı (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich)
From Istanbul to Ankara and Back Again: Photographing Old and New Cityscapes of the 1930s and 1940s

Coffee and Tea

Panel I
Čaršija and City Centre as Showcases of 'Oriental' Tradition and 'European' Modernity
Chair: Prof. Dr. Maurus Reinkowski (University of Basel)

Dr. Andjelko Vlašić (Croatian Institute of History, Slavonski Brod)
'Istanbul Signifies the Past — Ankara the Present!' Istanbul and Ankara as Seen by the Interwar Yugoslav Public

Aida Murtić M.A. (Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in Global Perspective, Heidelberg University)
Interwar Modernity and Old Sarajevo Čaršija

Dr. Denis S. Ermolin (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS, St. Petersburg)
Priština and Prizren on Postcards: Between Greetings and State-Building (1912–1941)

Comment: Prof. Dr. Zeynep Kuban
(Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University)

Friday, 15 September 2017

Panel II
Building the Yugoslav Capital
Chair: Prof. Dr. Zeynep Kuban (Istanbul Technical University)

Prof. Dr. Nenad Makuljević (Department of Art History, University of Belgrade)
The Belgrade Parliament Building between the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Prof. Dr. Aleksandar Ignjatović (Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade)
Spanning the Gap between Divisive Past and Primordial Unity: The Bridge of King Alexander I in Belgrade, 1930–1934

Magdalena Saiger M.A. (Graduate School 'Representations of the Shoa', University of Hamburg)
Symbolic Materiality – Belgrade's Old Fairground (Staro Sajmište) and its Function as a Vehicle to Pull the City Towards Central Europe

Dr. Zlata Vuksanović-Macura (Institute of Geography SANU, Belgrade)
The Housing Question in Belgrade in the Interwar Period

Comment: Prof. Dr. Kenny Cupers
(Urban Studies, University of Basel)


Panel III
Pan/Nationalist Zeitgeist: The Nation and the Body
Chair: Dr. Selen Etingü (Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel)

Prof. Dr. Aleksandar Jakir (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Split)
The Sokol Movement in Croatia as Promoter of Yugoslav Nationalism during the Interwar years

Dr. Vladana Putnik Prica (Art History Department, University of Belgrade)
The Role of the Sokol Movement in the Reshaping of Visual Identity of Interwar Belgrade

Yorick Tanner B.A. (Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel)
The Visualization of Sport in the Turkish Press of the Interwar Period

Comment: Prof. Dr. Nataša Mišković
(Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel)

Coffee break

Panel IV
Atatürk and the City: Progress, Repression, Neglect?
Chair: Dr. des. Alp Yenen (Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel)

Prof. Dr. Erol Ülker (Kemerburgaz University, Istanbul)
Allied Occupation, National Resistance, and Turkification in Istanbul, 1918-1923

lic. phil. Joël László (Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel)
Reiterating the War of Independence: Mustafa Kemal's Domestic Travels

Saadet Özen M.A. (Boğaziçi University Istanbul)
Filming the Emergence of a New City, 1923–1933

Comment: Prof. Dr. Maurus Reinkowski
(Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel)

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Panel V
From Subject to Citizen: Gender, Body, Dress
Chair: Prof. Dr. Nataša Mišković (University of Basel)

Dr. Xavier Bougarel (Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin)
The Reis and the Veil: A Religious Polemic in Interwar Bosnia
(Reading of paper)

Prof. Dr. Sevgi Adak (The Aga Khan University in the United Kingdom, London)
The Veil, the Kafes and the City: A Gendered Perspective to Urban Transformation in Early Turkish Republic.

Dr. Burçin Çakir (Glasgow Caledonian University)
Turkey as Neutral Peace Maker and Istanbul as its Maker: Gender, Image and Visibility of Turkey on the Eve of World War II

Comment: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag
(Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin)

Coffee break

Panel VI
Leisure and the Visual Revolution
Chair: Prof. Dr. Nada Boškovska (Eastern European History, University of Zurich)

Prof. Dr. Zafer Toprak (Boğaziçi University and Koç University, Istanbul)
Modernity and Social Life: Visuality/Photography in Istanbul in the Early Years of the Republic

Jan Bartknecht M.A. (Goldsmiths, University of London)
The Magazine Yedigün as a Space of Visual Utopia in Turkish Modernity

Prof. Dr. Karl Kaser (Southeastern European History and Anthropology, University of Graz)
Hollywood's Conquest of Southeastern European Cities

Comment: Prof. Dr. Milan Ristović
(History Department, University of Belgrade)

Closing Discussion

Lunch and End of Conference


Prof. Dr. Nataša Mišković
Middle Eastern Studies
University of Basel
Maiengasse 51, CH-4056 Basel;