Orchestrating an identity through monuments in the city: the case of Ankara, 1923-2016

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of City and Regional Planning, Turkey

Approval Date: 2016

Thesis Language: English

Student: Adam Abdullah



Throughout history, political power-holders and urban decision makers have ordered or endorsed the placement of awe-inspiring physical structures, or monuments, at visually significant locations within publicly accessible urban areas. These monumental constructions are highly visible, and are meant to convey subtle or explicit ideological messages. How do monuments, or large scale physical transformations, in visual urban space indicate the ideological motives of the decision makers who direct such projects? This thesis follows the physical development of Ankara over the last century to address this question. Theories regarding identity, monuments, and urban space will be applied to Ankara’s historical development, as well as the larger national and transnational context the city is situated within. This would help explain the various trajectories of physical development undertaken by the city’s decision makers through history. Two phases from the city’s history will be examined: 1923-1940s and 2000s-2016, with a relevant summary of the period in between. As a conclusion, the research findings would be analyzed to understand how the monuments in each phase were based on ideological motives that were starkly different in their particular details, but interestingly similar in their approach and implementation method, as embodied by the two decision makers of early and contemporary Turkey, Atatürk and President Erdoğan.