Eastern in the West, Western in the East: Deliberate and ambivalent facets of the identity of early Republican Turkey abroad


NEW PERSPECTIVES ON TURKEY, no.50, pp.93-144, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.93-144
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This paper represents an attempt to reflect on the Turkish identity in the formation period of the Republic, from its constitution in 1923 until 1939. The discussion is focused around two buildings that were constructed in 1939, both of which were built abroad to represent the new state; the Embassy of Turkey in Tehran and the Turkish pavilion at the New York World's Fair. These buildings were both featured in the same issue of the architectural magazine Mimar, and offer a fruitful starting point for delving into historical and theoretical issues in identity discourse. That said, the paper goes beyond merely analyzing the different formal vocabularies and personalities of the different architects and patrons involved in commissioning these structures. Rather than addressing only the different cultural and architectural responses to the contemporary national identity debate, the paper will also consider the question of whether the host countries and the addressees of these rather symbolic buildings also had a role in their design and evaluation stages. In other words, the study aims to understand how representation in a location in the "West" or in the "East" affects the identity of a nation characterized by its duality of "West" and "East".