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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Literary Dose #31

"The creation of a new capital city is not only about the articulation of a new national identity, but also more importantly about the creation of the state itself. The state constructs itself by opening up new spaces, closing others, inscribing them with the marks and symbols of the nation and state power, and organizing urban space around foundational norms and principles. These are self-constitutive acts; the state constitutes itself as an agent of modernity vested with the power and authority to control space, dictate the meaning of urbanity, shape the evolution of the public sphere, and suppress contending ideologies. By constructing a city, the state becomes an agent of the nation, the author that inscribes the nation into space, hence creating the nation-state. Giving shape to urban space by monitoring the architectural styles, erection of statues and monuments, and placement of squares, parks, shopping centers, and public buildings allows the state to establish its power and authority in controlling and dictating the norms that guide daily public life. The arrangement and monitoring of public spaces serve the function of transforming ordinary city dwellers that, just by partaking in daily routine activity, are transformed into citizens. This is how, by creating the city of Ankara, the new Turkish state constructed itself as secular, national, and modern."
- Alev Çınar in "The Imagined Community as Urban Reality: The Making of Ankar" from Urban Imaginaries: Locating the Modern City (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), edited by Alev Çınar and Thomas Bender.

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